Category Archives: Politics

Trump Separates Friends (North Korea, Japan) From Foes (Canada, China, Iran) at Press Conference During UN Visit

Donald Trump press conference, Lotte Hotel, NYC, Sept. 26, 2018 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

To really get a sense of who Donald Trump is as president, listen to his responses to a wide-ranging press conference, held on the day he chaired a Security Council meeting at the United Nations and the day after he delivered his address to the General Assembly, rejecting multilateralism in favor of America First sovereignty. 

In his press conference, he addressed everything from the Brett Kavanaugh nomination to the Supreme Court and the Senate Judiciary Committee’s handling of sexual assault charges, to North Korea, Iran, trade agreements. He accused China of meddling in the 2018 election (by imposing retaliatory tariffs targeting farmers and Red States). He continued to boast about historic gains in the economy while attacking Democrats, Obama, and sniping at Hillary Clinton. (“If others got in, it would have been just the opposite because they were going to put restrictions on.  They were going to put regulations on.  They were going to choke the economy as it was already choking, but it would have been worse.  And they were going to raise your taxes.  That’s what they want to do now if they ever got control, which I don’t think they’ll have control for a long time.”) 

He attacked Justin Trudeau of Canada while praising Kim Jong Un of North Korea, and anyone else who registered adoration. 

He dismissed any suggestion that members in the General Assembly laughed at his boast of accomplishing more in his time in office than any US president in history. 

So the fake news said, ‘People laughed at President Trump.’  They didn’t laugh at me.  People had a good time with me.  We were doing it together.  We had a good time.  They respect what I’ve done. The United States is respected again.  The United States was not respected.  Everybody was taking advantage of us.  From jobs, and taking our companies, and not paying the price — to so many other things, even military protection.” 

And he managed to get a hit at “fake news” and the “failing” New York Times. 

Here, then, is a minimally edited transcript of the press conference.  — Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

 

PRESS CONFERENCE

BY PRESIDENT TRUMP

Lotte New York Palace New York, New York

September 26, 2018

4:57 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much everybody.  We’ve had a great three days at the United Nations in New York.  And this is quite a gathering.  Wow.  It’s a lot of people.  A lot of media.  (Laughter.)

We’ve covered a great deal of territory.  Just left, as you know, Prime Minister Abe of Japan.  We’re starting trade talks with Japan.  They were not willing, for years, to talk trade, and now they’re willing to talk trade.  And I’m sure we’ll make a very good deal.

Just concluded, as you know — two days ago, signed a deal with South Korea — a trade deal.  A tremendous deal with South Korea.  It means a lot of business for our farmers.  We’re opening up for farmers.  We’re opening up for a lot of different groups.

We’re going to be able to sell much more than double the number of automobiles that we were allowed under a deal that was totally defective that was there before.  And so we’re very happy with that.  That deal is actually concluded.

We’re very well along the way with Mexico.  The relationship is very good.  And with Canada, we’ll see what happens.  They’re charging us 300-percent tariffs on dairy products.  We can’t have that.  We can’t have that.

With China, as you know, we put out an announcement today.  They would like to see me lose an election because they’ve never been challenged like this.  But I want to open up China to our farmers and to our industrialists and our companies.  And China is not open, but we’re open to them.  They charge us 25, 35, 55 percent for things, and we charge them nothing in terms of coming into the country.

Cars, they’re at 25 percent.  And we’re at 2 percent and 2.5 percent, and don’t even collect it.  But we collect it now.

So we’re doing very well in our situation with China on trade.  I have a great relationship with the President of China, President Xi.  But it’s got to be a two-way street.  It — for 25 years and longer, it was not.  And trillions and trillions of dollars was taken out of the United States for the benefit of China.  We just can’t have that.  We have to make it fair.

So we’re at $250 billion now, at 25 percent interest.  And a lot of money is coming into our coffers.  And it’s had no impact on our — absolutely, by the way, no impact on our economy, which I said it wouldn’t.

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In fact, steel is like the hottest industry there is.  If you look at what happened with steel, we’re charging a 25 percent tariff for the dumpers.  They dump massive amounts of steel.  They want to put the steel companies out of business.  And after they’re out of business, they’ll come in and charge five times more than you ever thought possible.  And we need steel and we need aluminum.  And those industries are doing well.

But steel is incredible.  U.S. Steel is opening up a minimum of eight plants.  Nucor is opening up plants.  And these are big plants — $750 million and a billion dollar plants, in some cases.

So what’s happening with the steel industry is very exciting to me.  It’s being rebuilt overnight.  If you look at the miners in coal, if you look at energy, LNG — Japan just gave us some numbers that are incredible.  They’re doubling the amount that they are going to be buying for Japan.  They’re taking the LNG and they’re doubling it up.

I said, “You have to do me a favor.  We don’t want these big deficits.  You’re going to have to buy more.”  They’re buying massive amounts of equipment and military equipment, and other countries are doing the same thing.  Because we have trade imbalances with almost everybody.  It’s a rare exception that we don’t.

So we are doing great as a country.  Unfortunately, they just raised interest rates a little bit because we are doing so well.  I’m not happy about that, because I know it’s going to be a question.  I am not happy about that.  I’d rather pay down debt or do other things, create more jobs.  So I’m worried about the fact that they seem to like raising interest rates.  We can do other things with the money.  And — but they raised them.  And they’re raising them because we’re doing so well.  You know, we’re doing much better than I had projected in terms of — when I was campaigning, I said we were going to do this and we’re doing much better than anybody ever thought possible.

And, I will say, if others got in, it would have been just the opposite because they were going to put restrictions on.  They were going to put regulations on.  They were going to choke the economy as it was already choking, but it would have been worse.  And they were going to raise your taxes.  That’s what they want to do now if they ever got control, which I don’t think they’ll have control for a long time.

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Kavanaugh Confirmation

Q    In 1991, when Joe Biden passed along to the Bush 41 White House the allegations that Anita Hill had raised against Clarence Thomas, the Bush White House asked the FBI to look into it as part of Judge Thomas’s background investigation — not a criminal investigation, but the background investigation. When these allegations were raised, why didn’t this White House do the same thing?  And with all of the allegations that are coming out now about Judge Kavanaugh, was there an opportunity missed here to have investigators look into this and get some sort of clarity one way or the other?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, the FBI told us they’ve investigated Judge Kavanaugh six times, five times, many times over the years.  They know him very well.  But here, there was nothing to investigate from at least one standpoint.  They didn’t know the location.  They didn’t know the time.  They didn’t know the year.  They didn’t know anything.  And it’s like, where do you go?

Also, it’s not for the FBI.  If you look at what Joe Biden said, he said, “They don’t do this.”  And he said it very clearly.

So I think when you really look at it all, it’s not going to change any of the Democrats’ minds.  They’re obstructionists.  They’re actually con artists because they know how quality this man is and they’ve destroyed a man’s reputation and they want to destroy it even more.

And I think people are going to see that in the midterms.  What they’ve done to this family, what they’ve done to these children — these beautiful children of his — and what they’ve done to his wife.  And they know it’s a big, fat con job.

And they go into a room and, I guarantee you, they laugh like hell at what they’ve pulled off on you and on the public.  They laugh like hell.      So, it wouldn’t have mattered if the FBI came back with the cleanest score.  And you understand that very well, John.  If they would have come back with the most perfect — “We found everything, and he’s perfectly innocent of everything.”  It wouldn’t have made a difference.  You wouldn’t have gotten one vote.

Now we will get votes from the Democrats if we win.  You’ll have three, four, or five Democrats giving us votes, because they’re in states that I won by 30 and 40 points and they’re going to give us votes. 

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Q    Mr. President, there are now three women accusing Judge Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.  Are you saying that all three of those women are liars?  Is there anything that can be said at this point tomorrow that could cause you to withdraw the nomination?  Anything at all that —

THE PRESIDENT:  I won’t get into that game.  I’ll only tell you this: This is one of the highest quality people that I’ve ever met, and everybody that knows him says the same thing.  And these are all false — to me, these are false accusations in certain cases.  And certain cases, even the media agrees with that.

     I can only say that, what they’ve done to this man is incredible.  You know, it’s very interesting — I pick a lot of judges.  I have 145 judges I will be picking by the end of a fairly short period of time because President Obama wasn’t big on picking judges.  When I got there, I said, “How is this possible?”  I have 145 — including court of appeals — judges.  And they just didn’t do it.  You know why?  They got tired.  They got complacent.  Something happened.  I have 145 judges. 

     Everybody wants to be a federal judge.  Not just a Supreme Court judge, I’m talking about court of appeals; I’m talking about district court.  I don’t think they’re going to want to so much.  I’ll be calling people, and we’ll have people calling people that do this.  And people are going to be scared because we could say it about you, “Thirty-five years ago, you met some…” — and you might know — you might not know what’s going on. 

What is going on?  Why did they wait so long?  Why did Senator Feinstein wait until the hearings were over and make this case?  Why didn’t she bring it right at the beginning?  When you ask about, as an example, the FBI — why didn’t they bring this right at the beginning, during the hearing?  You would have had all the time in the world for the FBI.  It would have been fine.

Now the FBI, as you know, did investigate this time, as they have five or six other times.  And they did a very thorough investigation.  But this is a big con job.  And I would love to be in the room with the Democrats, close the door — you guys are all away, outside, waiting.  And Schumer and his buddies are all in there laughing how they fooled you all.  Let’s just stop them.  A big fat con.

Q    But, Mr. President, if I could follow up.  You have daughters.  Can you understand why a victim of sexual assault would not report it at the time?  Don’t you understand —

THE PRESIDENT:  People are going to have to make a decision.  Thirty-six years, there’s no charge.  All of a sudden, the hearings are over and the rumors start coming out.

And then you have this other con artist, Avenatti, come out with another beauty today.  I only say that you have to look at the facts.  The senators are very capable people.  They’re very good people.  I know many of them.  They’re friends of mine.  These are very talented, very good people.  And they’re going to vote.  They’re going to believe what they believe.I can — when I look at what’s happened to the reputation of a great gentleman — a great intellect; a brilliant man; somebody that has a chance to be one of our great Supreme Court Justices in history, intellectually — I think it’s a shame.

Donald Trump press conference, Lotte Hotel, NYC, Sept. 26, 2018 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Cuba

Q    Mr. President, yesterday at the speech at the U.N., you spoke about how Venezuela’s problem was because of Cuba and the Castros — how they went in there and they brought socialism and communism to Venezuela, and now to Nicaragua as well. Mr. President, are you going to be more proactive now against Cuba as well?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’ve been very proactive against Cuba.  I don’t like what’s happening in Cuba.  As you know, President Obama gave them a pass and I didn’t like it.  Neither do Cuban people based in Miami and based in our country that came from Cuba and suffered in Cuba. 

     I don’t like what he did.  I’ve ended much of it — most of it.  I don’t like what’s happening in Cuba, and I certainly don’t like what’s happening in Venezuela.

Q    You said also that you had a call-to-action to ask the leaders around the world to also end socialism.  Would you like to be recognized as —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I wouldn’t say that socialism has been working really well around the world, okay.  You can take a look at Venezuela as your number one — your number one — I guess, the one that is most obvious.  But you take a look around the world, socialism is not exactly riding high.

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Standing By His Men

Q    Why is it, Mr. President, that you always seem to side with the accused and not the accuser?  You have three women here who are all making allegations, who are all asking that their stories be heard.  And, you know, if you look at the case of Roy Moore, if you look at the case of one of your staffers, you seem to, time and again, side with the accused and not the accuser.  Is that because of the many allegations that you’ve had made against you over the years?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, I wasn’t happy with Roy Moore.  Let’s get that straight.  But Roy Moore was a Republican candidate —

Q    But you stood by him.

THE PRESIDENT:  — and I would have rather had a Republican candidate win.  I was very happy with Luther Strange, who was a terrific man from Alabama, but Luther Strange had a lot of things going against him.

As far as women, whether it’s a man or a woman, these are — you know, it can happen the other way.  Allegations can go the other way also.  You understand that.  And whether it was a man or a woman, 30 years ago, 36 years ago — in fact, they don’t even know how many years ago because nobody knows what the time is.  That’s a long time.

And I could pick, as an example — hopefully I won’t have to do it as a replacement because hopefully this is going to go very well on Thursday.  It’s going to go very well on Monday, or Saturday, or Sunday, or whenever they vote.  But I could pick a woman and she could have charges made from many years ago also.

Q    First of all, do you think these women — all three of them are liars?  Yes or no?

THE PRESIDENT:  I can’t tell you.  I have to watch tomorrow.  I have to read.  I just heard about one a little while ago.  I can tell you her lawyer is a low life, okay?  So I can’t tell you whether or not they’re liars until I hear them.

I don’t know what happened today because I’ve been very busy with Japan, with South Korea, with China, and about seven other countries, as you know — and I chaired the Security Council.

So I don’t know about today’s person that came forward.  I do know about the lawyer.  And you don’t get much worse — bad reputation, too.  Take a look at his past.

So, as far as the other women are concerned, I’m going to see what happens tomorrow.  I’m going to be watching — you know, believe it or not.  I’m going to see what’s said.  It’s possible that they will be convincing.

Now, with all of that being said, Judge Brett Kavanaugh has been, for many years, one of the most respected people in Washington.  He’s been on — I guess you’d call it the second highest court.  And every single person knows him; a lot of people know him well. And those people don’t believe what’s going on.  I can always be convinced.  I have to hear it.

Q    It sounds like what you’re saying is, there is a situation, there is a scenario under which you would withdraw Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.  Is that correct?  And have you talked about that with him?

THE PRESIDENT:  If I thought he was — if I thought he was guilty of something like this, yeah sure.

THE PRESIDENT:  I want to watch.  I want to see.  I hope I can watch.  I’m meeting with a lot of countries tomorrow, but I will certainly, in some form, be able to watch.  And I’ll also rely on some very fair and talented Republican senators who — look, if we brought George Washington here and we said, “We have George Washington,” the Democrats would vote against him, just so you understand. 

And he may have had a bad past, who knows, you know.  (Laughter.)  He may have had some, I think, accusations made.  Didn’t he have a couple of things in his past?  George Washington would be voted against 100 percent by Schumer and the con artists.  I mean 100 percent.  One hundred percent. 

So it really doesn’t matter from their standpoint.  That’s why when John asked about the FBI — if the FBI did the most thorough investigation in the history of the FBI, and they found him to be 100-percent perfect, he would lose every single vote.

Now, if the Republicans win tomorrow, I think you’re going to get some votes from the Democrats.  You know why?  Because — we all know why — because it’s called politics.  Then you’ll probably get some votes.

Q    Has there ever been an instance when you’ve given the benefit of the doubt to a woman?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’ve known them.  Hallie, I’ve know them for a long time and — a lot of these people.  A lot of people.  And some I’ve been disappointed with.  I have been disappointed with some.  Others, like — you know, there are charges that are pretty weak. 

But I’ve known people for a long time.  I never saw them do anything wrong.  I never saw them do anything wrong.  And there are some that probably — I agree.  I can tell you there are some that I — I’ve been watching for a long time.  And in a couple of cases, they weren’t Republicans.  In a lot of cases, they were not; they were exactly the opposite.  

But I’ve been watching them for a long time.  And I knew for a long time these were not good people.  And they were never brought up. 

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

I Was Accused…Fake News

Q    How have your personal experiences being accused by more than a dozen women of sexual misconduct — 

THE PRESIDENT:  I’ve been accused.  I’ve been accused.  False accusations. 

Q    — right, how have those — 

THE PRESIDENT:  Excuse me.  I’ve been accused.  And I was accused by — I believe, it was — four women.  You can check with Sean Hannity.  You can check with Fox, because they covered it very strongly — who got paid. 

Q    And how has (inaudible) — 

THE PRESIDENT:  Excuse me.  Excuse me.  I was accused by four or five women who got paid a lot of money to make up stories about me.  We caught them, and the mainstream media refused to put it on television.  They refused to even write about it.  

     There were four women, and maybe more — I think the number is four or five.  But one had a mortgage paid off her house, $52,000.  Another one had other things happen.  And the one that reported it, I believe, was offered $750,000 to say bad things about me — and she is the one that reported it.  This woman is incredible.  She reported it, instead of taking the money.  

     So I’ve had numerous accusations about me.  

     Q    Right. 

     THE PRESIDENT:  I mean, they made false statements about me, knowing they were false.  I never met them.  I never met these people.  And, what did they do?  What did they do? 

     They took money in order to say bad things.  I’ve had stories written in the New York Times — front page — about four women.  The whole top center front page of the New York Times.  I think it was four big pictures.  

I said, “Wow.  That’s a big thing.  What’s that?”  These were women that were quoted saying bad things about me.  Not the worst things about me, but bad things.  And I said, “Gee, that’s too bad.”  I knew them a long time ago — 15 years ago, 20 years ago.  I said, “That’s too bad.  I’m surprised at them.”  

And then all of a sudden I see them on television — nothing to do with me.  The next day or a day later, they were incensed.  They said, “Donald Trump is a nice guy.  We never said this.  The New York Times did false reporting.  They’re fake news.”  And you know what?  The New York Times would not report that their story was fake.  

     These women said great things. Not only did they not say the bad stuff, they said great things about me.  Front page.  And those women — they’re incredible women — they went on television — and they didn’t want to, and I didn’t ask them.  And they said, “The New York Times made it up.  They gave false quotes.”  And they went on a lot of shows.  They were really incensed and they couldn’t believe it.  

That’s why people know that a lot of the news is fake.  And a lot of the people sitting here are fake.  But 20 percent of them are wonderful.  Okay? 

Q    If I could just actually ask my question, Mr. Trump.  I — you didn’t let me ask my question.  

THE PRESIDENT:  You’ve been asking a question for 10 minutes, all right?

Q    No, you interrupted my question.

THE PRESIDENT:  Please sit down. Please.

Q    I’m asking you —

THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead.  Go ahead. 

Q    — how did those impact your opinions on the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh? 

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it does impact my opinion.  You know why?  Because I’ve had a lot of false charges made against me.  I’m a very famous person, unfortunately.  I’ve been a famous person for a long time.  But I’ve had a lot of false charges made against me — really false charges.  

I know friends that have had false charges.  People want fame.  They want money.  They want whatever.  So when I see it, I view it differently than somebody sitting home watching television, where they say, “Oh, Judge Kavanaugh…” this or that.  

It’s happened to me many times.  I’ve had many false charges; I had a woman sitting in an airplane and I attacked her while people were coming onto the plane.  And I have a number-one bestseller out?  I mean it was total phony story.  There are many of them.  

So when you say, does it affect me in terms of my thinking with respect to Judge Kavanaugh?  Absolutely.  Because I’ve had it many times.  

And if the news would have reported these four people — I couldn’t believe it.  When I heard that they caught these four people, I said, “Wow.  That’s a big story.”  And it was — for Fox.  Okay. 

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Accuses China of Meddling in 2018 Elections

Q    Earlier today and just now, you made a significant allegation against the Chinese government.  You suggested that the Chinese had meddled in or are meddling in the 2018 midterm elections. 

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s what I hear. 

Q    What evidence do you have of that, sir?  Is there a national intelligence estimate, for example, that you’re prepared to put forward? 

THE PRESIDENT:  We have evidence.  We have evidence.  It’ll come out.  Yeah, I can’t tell you now, but it came — it didn’t come out of nowhere, that I can tell you.  

Now, if you — they’ve actually admitted that they’re going after farmers.  I mean, I think most of you can cover that. 

I like that you’re shaking your head, “yes.”  I’m going to ask you the next question because of that. Okay?  It’s probably going to be the killer of all questions.  (Laughter.)  But let me just explain —  

Q    But why make the charges now —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, no.  Let me — 

Q    — if you’re not prepared to come forward with the evidence, sir? 

THE PRESIDENT:  China, now, put on $250 billion, and they’re paying 25 percent on that.  They’re paying billions and billions.  This has never happened to China.  And I like China.  And I like President Xi a lot.  I think he’s a friend of mine.  He may not be a friend of mine anymore, but he — I think he probably respects — 

From what I hear — if you look at Mr. Pillsbury, the leading authority on China — he was on a good show — I won’t mention the name of the show — recently.  And he was saying that China has total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump’s very, very large brain.  He said, “Donald.  Donald Trump.  They don’t know what to do.”  It never happened.

Well, one thing they are trying to do is they are trying to convince people to go against Donald Trump.  Because a normal, regular, political person that has no concept of what the hell he’s doing would let China continue to take $500 billion a year out of our country and rebuild their country.  

I mean, they were building 29 massive bridges like the George Washington Bridge.  They’re building things that we don’t build anymore.  But we’re starting to build them again.  

And our economy now is hotter than it’s ever been. I don’t know you if you saw the confidence levels this morning that just came out.  Fantastic.  

And in all fairness to the Fed raising rates, they’re raising rates because we’ve never done like we’re doing now.  And one of the things that is nice about the rates — the people that were hurt the worst by these zero interest rates and, you know — 

When President Obama had an economy that was — it was the worst comeback since the Great Depression and all that — you’ve all heard that.  But remember, he was playing with zero-interest money.  He was playing with funny money.  That’s easy.  I’m playing with fairly expensive money. 

So when he does that, the people that benefit are people that actually — in their whole life, they would save 10, 15, 20 percent of their salary and put it in the bank.  Those people got killed because they put their money in the bank.  They were going to live off the interest, and there was no interest.  

Now, those people are starting to get interest.  And those are the people, frankly, that deserve to — you know, they did a great job.  The people that did it right, the people that did the best job got hurt the most.  

So in one sense I like it, but basically I’m a low-interest-rate person.  I hate to tell you.  

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Fire Rod Rosenstein?

Q    Are you planning to fire Rod Rosenstein?  

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m talking to him.  We’ve had a good talk.  He said he never said it.  He said he doesn’t believe it.  He said he has a lot of respect for me, and he was very nice and we’ll see.  And he’s a member of the Trump administration, in that sense; it’s the Justice Department.  

I would certainly prefer not doing that.  There was no collusion.  There was no obstruction — I mean, unless you call obstruction the fact that I fight back.  I do fight back.  I really fight back.  I mean, if you call that obstruction, that’s fine. 

But there’s no obstruction.  There’s no collusion.  I’m going to meet with him tomorrow.  I may call Rod tonight or tomorrow and ask for a little bit of a delay to the meeting, because I don’t want to do anything that gets in the way of this very important Supreme Court pick.  So I don’t want it competing and hurting the decision — one way or the other decision.  Again, I want to hear what she has to say.  

But I want to do — so I may delay that.  I’m going to see.  I don’t want to do anything that’s going to conflict with that.  But my preference would be to keep him, and to let him finish up.  

You know, I call it a “witch hunt.”  And it is a witch hunt.  If you look at the FBI statements with Strzok and his lover Lisa Page.  If you look at all of the things that have gone on in the FBI.  If you look at McCabe taking $700,000 from a Hillary Clinton-PAC essentially run by Terry McAuliffe, who’s her best friend in the world, and he gives them hundreds of thousands of dollars.  And he’s in charge of her campaign, and his wife is getting all of this money to run — she lost — to run.  I mean, what’s going on?  

If you look at the horrible statements, like “Way to go, Page.  Great story you put into a newspaper.”  Essentially, now we’ll go and investigate that group.  It’s terrible.  We have caught people doing things that are terrible. 

I would much prefer keeping Rod Rosenstein.  Much prefer.  Many people say I have the right to absolutely fire him.  He said he did not say it.  He said he does not believe that.  And nobody in this room believes it 

By the way, I deal with the people in this room.  I was with Mike Pompeo before, and we were dealing, at a very high level, with Japan. And I was saying things that nobody in the room even understood.  And I said them a long time ago, and I was right.  He said, “That’s not the 25th Amendment that I’m looking at.”  I think I can say that from Mike. 

Q    So you don’t think anyone in your administration has ever discussed using the 25th Amendment against you? 

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t think so.  Well, yeah — enemies, sure.  You use anything you can.  

Q    Was it in your administration or your Cabinet? 

THE PRESIDENT:  Hey, you use anything they can.  They’re not in love with me.  They’re not going to beat me in the election; they know that.  They’re not going to beat me.  The people that I’m looking at are total lightweights.  I dream of running against those people.  

Q    But within your administration? 

THE PRESIDENT:  Maybe they’ll come up with somebody that’s not — they’re not going to beat me. I’m against what they want to do.  I’m in favor of law enforcement.  I’m in favor of safety and security, and low taxes.  I want low taxes.  

I want borders.  We’re getting another $1.6 billion in borders.  I want borders.  We’ve spent $3.2 [billion] and we’re getting another $1.6 [billion].  And then eventually, we’re getting the whole thing and we’ll complete the wall.

They don’t want that.  They don’t want that.  They don’t want the things that I have.  

Now, I must say, I know many of the Democrats.  They’ll say things and then wink at me.  And again, it’s the same old story.  They’ll say things; they don’t mean it.  Its politics.  The reason they don’t want me is because they want to run the show.  They want it.  It’s power.  It’s whatever you want to call it.  But what they’ve done here is a disgrace.  A total disgrace.  

And what they do — I know, it’s sort of interesting — in one case, they say, “He’s a fascist.  He’s taking over the government.  He’s the most powerful President ever.  He’s a horrible human being.  He wants to take over the entire government, and he’s going to do it.  We can’t stop him.”  That didn’t work.  

The next week, he said, “Uh, he’s incompetent.”  I said, “Well, wait a minute.”  In one case, I’m taking over the world.   And in the other case, “He’s incompetent.”  They tried that for a week.  That didn’t work.  

Look, these are very dishonest people.  These are con artists.  And the press knows it, but the press doesn’t write it. 

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

No Timeline for North Korea 

Q    You’re getting letters from Chairman Kim.  Why do you need a second summit with the North Korean leader so soon?  And what do you — 

THE PRESIDENT:  Because he’d like it. 

Q    What would it be for? 

THE PRESIDENT:  So I’ve received two letters from Chairman Kim.  At some point, I’ll, you know, give these letters — they’re incredible letters.  They’re letters that are magnificent in the sense of his feeling for wanting to get this done.  I really believe he wants to get it done.  I may be wrong. 

I heard somebody on a certain network last night — I won’t mention which one — say, “Why has President Trump given so much to North Korea?”  I said, “Wait a minute.”  I asked Sarah Huckabee, “Please call this person.”  I gave nothing — other than I met.  What did I give them?  

I didn’t do what Obama did:  Give them $1.8 billion in cash to get back four hostages.  I got back our hostages; I never paid them anything.  I haven’t paid them 10 cents.  

But he wants to make a deal and I’d like to make a deal.  We actually have a very good relationship together — a lot different than the last time I was at the United Nations.  That was a little bit rough.  

Don’t forget, that time, they said, “Oh, Trump is saying these horrible things.  He’s going to get us into a war.”  You were going to have a war.  If I wasn’t elected, you’d be in war.  And President Obama essentially said the same thing. He was ready to go to war.  

You would have had a war, and you would have lost millions, not thousands.  You would have lost millions of people.  Seoul has 30 million people — 40 miles and 30 miles from this very dangerous border.  If I wasn’t elected, you would have had a war. 

President Obama thought you had to go to war.  You know how close he was to pressing the trigger for war?  Millions of people.  With me, nobody is talking about that.  Nobody is talking about that. 

We have a very good relationship.  He likes me.  I like him.  We get along.  He wrote me two of the most beautiful letters.  When I showed one of the letters — just one — to Prime Minister Abe, he said, “This is actually a groundbreaking letter.  This is an incredible — this is a historic letter.”  And it is a historic letter.  It’s a beautiful — it’s a beautiful piece of art.  And I think we’re going to make a deal. 

Will we make a deal, Steve?  I don’t really know.  But I think we’re going to.  

In the meantime — and I’ve said it a thousand — I don’t want to bore you: no rockets, no missiles, no nuclear tests — you know, for over a year, where you haven’t seen.  

Before I got here, everybody in this room thought you were going to war.  And then what happened — it was funny — they said, “He was terrible.  He was so rough with Chairman Kim — Kim Jong Un.  He was so rough.  It’s terrible.  He’s going to cause…”  

Well, I had a great meeting with President Putin.  And on that one, they said, “He was too soft with President Putin.”  I had a great meeting with the President.  It lasted for two hours.  We discussed everything: Ukraine, Syria, Israel and Israel’s protection.  We had a great meeting.  They wanted me to end up in a boxing match.  

And you know what?  If I was killer-tough with President Putin, they would have said, “He was too tough.”  You can’t win with these people, but you just keep going.  In the meantime, we’re doing well. 

Q    How long do you think it should take North Korea to denuclearize? 

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t know.  I don’t want to get into — 

Q    We’ve seen estimates of one year, two year — 

THE PRESIDENT:  Steve, I don’t want to get into the time game.  You know why?  I told Mike Pompeo, I said, “Mike, don’t get into the time game.”  We stopped them.  They’re taking down plants.  They’re taking down a lot of different testing areas.  They’re going to take down some more.  You’ll be hearing about that very soon.  I don’t want to go ahead of myself, but you’ll be hearing about it soon.  They have no interest right now in testing nuclear.  

You know, we had a case just about when I was coming into office — you all remember it — where there was a massive — they thought it was an earthquake.  A mountain moved over an inch and a half.  We’re talking about mountains.  You know, North Korea is very mountainous.  Beautiful land.  Beautiful.  This mountain actually shifted.  It shifted.  And somebody thought it was an earthquake.  And then they found out, no, this was nuclear testing.  Shifted a mountain.  Now I’m talking about serious stuff.  Serious size. 

When I came in, and certainly before I came in — and even at the beginning of mine because when I was having rhetorical contests — you know, contests, really, I guess you could call it — with Chairman Kim, which we both smile at now and we laugh at.  But everybody thought that was a horrible thing.  

We’ve had — many Presidents were unable to do anything, anything at all with North Korea.  We now have a good relationship.  We have a good relationship.  And most importantly, all of the things that you’ve been hearing about –the horror stories — in my opinion, they’re gone.  

Now, could they start up again?  Yes.  I’m a deal guy.  Could they start?  Yeah.  Could be that we don’t work it out. 

I think — I have it right here — I think that what we’ve done behind the scenes, which nobody really knows about — and I don’t blame you for not knowing about, you know, personal letters, private letters.  But saying they want to get it done.  We know much more than the media for a change.  Much more.  But if you saw what’s going on behind the scenes, I think you’d very impressed.  

We were a country going to war.  I really believe that President Obama would admit that he said it’s by far his biggest problem.  When I sat with him, prior to going to office — going into office, he said to me that’s by far the biggest problem.  And he said to me that he was very close to going into war.  

And millions of people — not — you know, I — they say, “Oh, thousands of people…”  No, no, no, not thousands.  Millions of people would have been killed.  And that could have left — you’re right next to China.  You’re right — that could have been a world war very easily. 

Right now, we’re in a great position.  I don’t want to play the time game.  I told Mike Pompeo, “Don’t let them do that to you.”  I haven’t given anything.  

And all of a sudden — we got back, it was a few weeks ago.  I think we were back like two and a half months from the summit, which was a great success.  And people are screaming, “What’s taking so long?”  I said, “Oh, I get it.”  You got to understand the media.  I’ve been dealing with the media all my life.  Too much.  Too much.  

They’re screaming and I saw that.  And our guys were — and not Mike — but our guys were being, “Oh well, we’re working as fast…”  I said, “I got all the time in the world.  I don’t have to rush it.”  There’s no — you know, secession of sanctions.  We got the sanctions on.  I didn’t take any sanctions off.  

I did see a reporter last night — a guy I like, personally, a lot.  And he asked a question to President Moon of South Korea.  He said, “Why did the President give so much?”  I didn’t give anything.  I gave nothing.  What have I given, other than some time?  Yes, I flew to Singapore.  We had a meeting.  

Now, giving would be if I took the sanctions off.  I didn’t want to do — if you asked General Mattis, for a year and a half, I said, “Why don’t we stop these ridiculous,” in my opinion, “the military games?”  I call them the “military games.”  If I told you how much those games cost — and, frankly, I told South Korea, “You should be paying for these games.”  We pay for them. 

They say, “Well, we fly the planes in from a short distance away.”  I said, “Where is that?”  “Guam.”  “Oh, huh.  How long a trip is that?”  “Seven hours.”  “Oh, great.”  We’re flying these massive bombers and everything.  I’ve wanted to stop this for a long time.  I consider that an asset.  

But we’ve done — we’re saving, by the way — just for the taxpayer, we’re saving a fortune.  And if we need them, we can start them up immediately.  If I think we need them, I’ll start them before the generals will start them.  

The fact is, this reporter said that.  I said, “What have we done?  I haven’t given anything.”  And we’re really onto the cusp.  I think we’re really going to do something that’s going to be very important. 

But we’re not playing the time game.  If it takes two years, three years, or five months, it doesn’t matter.  There’s no nuclear testing and there’s no testing of rockets. 

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Democrats’ Con Job

Q    Are you at all concerned at the message that has been sending — being sent to the women who are watching this when you use language like “con job” in relation to allegations of sexual assault? 

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, I’ve used much worse language in my life than “con job.”  That’s like probably the nicest phrase I’ve ever used.  I mean, con job — it is.  It’s a con job.  You know, confidence — it’s a confidence job.  But they short — it’s a con job by the Democrats.  They know it. 

Q    What about the message that’s being sent to women who are watching? 

THE PRESIDENT:  They did the same thing with the Russia investigation.  They tried to convince people that I had something to do with Russia.  There was no collusion.  

Think of it.  I’m in Wisconsin.  I’m in Michigan.  I say, “Gee, we’re not doing well.”  I won both those states.  “We’re not doing well.  Uh, let me call the Russians to help.”  Does anybody really believe that?  It’s a con job. 

And I watch these guys — Little Adam Schiff, and all of the guys.  He takes a call from a Russian who turned out to be a faker.  You know, he was a comedian or something.  “This is so-and-so calling for…” — he took the call.  Why is the taking a call from a Russian? 

Senator Warner took a call from a Russian.  He was a comedian or something, but he said, “We have pictures of President Trump.”  “Oh, where can I get them?”  If we ever did that, it would be like a big deal. 

Yeah, it’s a con job.  And it’s not a bad term.  It’s not a bad term at all. 

THE PRESIDENT:  I’ll tell you one thing I can say: I’ve had a lot of people talking about this to me, with respect to what’s happening, because it’s a horrible precedent.  

I’m going to have to get other judges and other Supreme Court judges, possibly.  I could have a lot of the Supreme Court judges, more than two.  And when I called up Brett Kavanaugh — spoke to him and his family — and told them that I chose them, they were so happy and so honored.  It was as though — I mean, the biggest thing that’s ever happened.  And I understand that — U.S. Supreme Court.  

I don’t want to be in a position where people say, “No, thanks.  No, thanks.  I don’t want to.”  You know, “I spoke to somebody 38 years ago, and it may not be good.”  We have a country to run.  We want the best talent in the world. 

But I’ll tell you this:  The people that have complained to me about it the most — about what’s happening — are women.  Women are very angry.  

You know, I got 52 percent with women.  Everyone said, “This couldn’t happen — 52 percent.”  Women are so angry.  And I, frankly, think that — I think they like what the Republicans are doing, but I think they would have liked to have seen it go a lot faster.  But give them their day in court.  Let her have her day in court.  Let somebody else have a day in court. 

But the ones that I find — I mean, I have men that don’t like it, but I have women that are incensed at what’s going on.  I’ve always said women are smarter than men.  I’ve said that a lot and I mean it.  But women are incensed at what’s going on.

DDonald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

I Like Kurds A Lot

Q    Rudaw Media Network from Kurdistan region, north of Iraq.  I’m a Kurd.  Sir —

THE PRESIDENT:  Good.  Good.  Great people. Are you a Kurd?

They’re great people.  They’re great fighters.  I like them a lot.  Let’s go.  I like this question so far.

Q    Mr. President, you always say you support your allies.  Kurds right now, after the defeat of ISIS, are under a lot of pressure in Syria and in Iraq by many adversaries.  

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s true.

Q    What will you do to elevate their position to support them in order — after they help the United States to defeat ISIS?  Thank you very much. 

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we are helping them a lot and we’ve been very friendly with them.  And, as you know, we’ve fought side-by-side.  And we have defeated ISIS, essentially, a very short while ago, in the Middle East.  And we did it with a lot of help from the Kurds.  And they are — they’re great fighters.  

You know, some people are great fighters and some people aren’t.  The Kurds are great fighters.  And they’re great, great people.  And we’re going to be working — we’re discussing that situation exactly right now. 

Q    What will you do to support them, sir, (inaudible) Syria? 

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’m just telling you, we’re going to be discussing that situation.  We have already started discussing that situation.  But we have tremendous support from the Kurds in defeating ISIS.  Okay? 

Q    And about Syria:  Sir, in your speech you did not mention —

THE PRESIDENT:  Uh, yes.  Go.  Uh oh.

Donald Trump press conference, Lotte Hotel, NYC, Sept. 26, 2018 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Prospects for NAFTA

Q    Did you reject a one-on-one meeting with the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau? 

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I did.  

Q    Why? 

THE PRESIDENT:  Because his tariffs are too high, and he doesn’t seem to want to move, and I’ve told him, “Forget about it.”  And frankly, we’re thinking about just taxing cars coming in from Canada.  That’s the motherlode.  That’s the big one.  We’re very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada. 

We don’t like their representative very much.  They’ve taken advantage — I love Canada, by the way.  I have so many friends.  I have everybody, and so many friends.  But that has nothing to do with this; I’m representing the United States.  

Mexico was totally — I mean, they were great.  By the way, the new President has been great.  The deal is done.  Now, it has to go through Congress and, you know, a lot things have to happen.  But we’ve done — Bob Lighthizer, who’s here someplace.  Where’s Bob?  Bob.  Bob Lighthizer has done a great job of negotiating, as they have.  But the deal is done.  It’s up to Congress. 

THE PRESIDENT:  But Canada has treated us very badly.  They’ve treated our farmers in Wisconsin, and New York state, and a lot of other states very badly.  

Dairy products — 300 percent.  Three hundred percent.  How do you sell a dairy product at 300 percent?  The answer is:  You don’t.  What it is, is a barrier.  It’s — basically, they’re saying, “We don’t have any barriers.  By the way, it’s 300 percent.”  So you don’t send it in, because you can’t compete.  

So Canada has a long way to go.  I must be honest with you, we’re not getting along at all with their negotiators.  We think their negotiators have taken advantage of our country for a long time.  We had people that didn’t know what they were doing.  And that’s why we had — over the last five or six years, if you average it out, we had $800 billion a year in trade losses.  It’s ridiculous.  It’s not going to happen. 

Q    What does that mean for NAFTA?  Will you be pulling out of NAFTA?     

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t like NAFTA.  I never liked it.  It’s been very bad for the United States.  It’s been great for Canada.  It’s been great for Mexico.  Very bad for us.  

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m not going to use the name “NAFTA.”  I refuse to use it.  I’ve seen thousands of plants and factories close.  I’ve seen millions of jobs lost to auto companies that moved.  I mean, Mexico has 25 percent of our auto business now because of NAFTA. 

Under our deal, it’s not going to happen anymore.  I hate to tell you, it’s not.  We’re going to keep companies.  And I told the Mexicans, I said, “We have to keep companies.”  But they’re getting a lot, also.  They’re getting other things.  They’re getting a lot of good things.  Mexico made a very good deal. 

But with Canada, it’s very tough.  What we’re doing is if we made a deal with Canada — which is, you know, a good chance still.  But I’m not making anything near what they want to do.  We’re going to be fair.  

Q    But you’re — are you going to notify Congress of pulling out of NAFTA? 

THE PRESIDENT:  What we’re probably going to do is call it the “USMC.”  Like the United States Marine Corps, which I love.  General Kelly likes it even more.  Where’s General Kelly?  He likes that.  “USMC” — which would be U.S., Mexico, Canada.  But it’ll probably or possibly be just “USM.”  It’ll be United States and Mexico.  

Q    Yes or no, are you going to — 

THE PRESIDENT:  Canada will come along.  Now, if Canada doesn’t make a deal with us, we’re going to make a much better deal.  We’re going to tax the cars that come in.  We will put billions and billions of dollars into our Treasury.  And frankly, we’ll be very happy because it’s actually more money than you can make, under any circumstance, with making a deal.  Okay? 

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Kurds, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Turkey

Q    What will be the U.S.A. relations with the Kurds —

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, I thought I just answered that.

Q    — post-ISIS.  Post-ISIS.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  We’re trying to get along very well.  We do get along great with the Kurds.  We’re trying to help them a lot.  Don’t forget, that’s their territory.

THE PRESIDENT:  We have to help them.  I want to help them.

Go ahead, what’s next?

Q    Then, what —

THE PRESIDENT:  They fought with us.  They fought with us.  They died with us.  They died.  We lost — tens of thousands of Kurds died fighting ISIS.  They died for us and with us.  And for themselves.  They died for themselves.  But they’re great people.  And we have not forget — we don’t forget — I don’t forget.  What happens someday later — but I can tell you that I don’t forget.  These are great people.

Q    About Iran, Mr. President.  About Iran, one question: What is your clear plan to stop Iranian influence in Iraq, in Syria, and especially in Iraqi Kurdistan? 

THE PRESIDENT:  I think there’s been no greater change — other than maybe China, because China — unfortunately, their markets have dropped — would you say, 30 percent in the last four months, right?  I think I watched you recently when you said that.  I said, “I think she’s wrong.  I think it’s actually 32.  But that’s okay.”  But a lot.  

There’s been no — other than maybe that, but even that.  Because China is a very special place.  And Iran is a very special place.  But I think there’s been no country that’s changed so much as Iran.  

In the last six months, since I took off the horrible, horrible Iran nuclear deal, as they called it — one of the dumbest deals ever made.  As an example, why didn’t they take care of Yemen in the deal?  Why didn’t they take care of Syria in the deal?  You know what Kerry said — the reason?  “It was too complicated.”  

We’re giving $150 billion, we paid $1.8 billion in cash — cash.  This whole room would be filled up with hundred-dollar bills.  And you’d need probably five rooms like this.  But you have $1.8 billion in cash.  Why didn’t we take care of Yemen?  Why didn’t we take care of Syria and other?  And he said, “Because it was too complicated.”  Well, you just gave all your cards.  You gave them $150 billion.  And now Yemen’s a mess, but it’s getting better.  

And Syria’s a mess.  And I was responsible — and I hope it stays that way — when I put out on social media, a few weeks ago, about Idlib Province.  I said, “Don’t do it.”  And I’ll tell you, it happened — where I was at a meeting with a lot of supporters, and a woman stood up and she said, “There’s a province in Syria with 3 million people.  Right now, the Iranians, the Russians, and the Syrians are surrounding their province.  And they’re going to kill my sister.  And they’re going to kill millions of people in order to get rid of 25,000 or 35,000 terrorists or enemies of theirs.”  But I think we can call them terrorists. 

And I said, “That’s not going to happen.”  I didn’t hear of Idlib Province.  And I came back to New York, and I picked up the failing New York Times — I hate to admit it was the New York Times, but it was the failing New York Times.  And I opened it up — not on the front page, but there was a very big story.  I said, “Wow, that’s the same story that the woman told me that I found hard to believe.”  Because why would — how would anyone do that with 3 million people?  And it said that they were being surrounded, and they were going in and starting — literally, the next day, they were going to drop bombs all over the place and perhaps kill millions of people in order to get 35,000 terrorists.  

And I put out on social media and elsewhere — I gave Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, everybody these orders: “Don’t let it happen.”  I said, “Don’t let it happen.”  That doesn’t mean they can’t be selective.  They can’t be — you know, go in and they’ve got to do what they’ve got to do with terrorists.  I assume they’re terrorists.  But don’t kill millions of people.  

And it stopped.  You saw that.  Nobody’s going to give me credit, but that’s okay.  That’s okay.  Because the people the people know. 

I have had more Syrians thank me for that.  This was about four weeks ago, I put that out.  I said, “They’re surrounding a city of 3 million people.  They’re going to start bombing the city.  Don’t let it happen.”  And I meant it, too.  I meant it.  And millions of people have been saved.  

And I gave, today, great credit to Iran.  I don’t know if you heard that.  I gave great credit to Iran, to Russia, and to Syria for not doing it.  

Now I hope it’s going to be surgical — meaning go in and do — it’s lengthy and everything else.  And they possibly have to do it.  But I think millions of people would have been killed.  And that would have been a shame.  

And hopefully — and I have to tell you, Turkey has been a big help.  Turkey has been great.  Turkey has helped us very much with that whole situation. 

Q    Touching back on Iran: Of course, this week, you put out a call to action to other countries to rally with America, to put pressure on Iran.  Rouhani is still calling for the U.S. to come back into the old deal.  But after meeting with world leaders this week, did you make any progress towards a potential new deal?  

THE PRESIDENT:  Doesn’t matter what world leaders think on Iran.  Iran’s going to come back to me and they’re going to make a good deal, I think.  Maybe not.  Deals — you never know.  

But they’re suffering greatly.  They’re having riots in every city, far greater than they were during the green period with President Obama.  Far greater.  When President Obama stuck up for government, not the people.  You probably would have had a much different Iran had he not done that.  But I’m sticking up for the people.  I am with the people of Iran.  

But here’s the thing:  They have rampant inflation.  Their money is worthless.  Everything is going wrong.  They have riots in the street.  You can’t buy bread.  You can’t do anything.  It’s a disaster.  At some point, I think they’re going to want to come back, and they’re going to say, “Hey, can we do something?”  

And I’m very simple; I just don’t want them to have nuclear weapons.  That’s all.  Is that too much to ask?  I don’t want them to have nuclear weapons.  

I want them to have a great economy.  I want them to sell so much oil so that the oil prices — I’m not happy with OPEC.  I told them, “I’m not happy with OPEC.”  We take care of all these people, we defend them.  They wouldn’t be there for two weeks if it wasn’t for me, and the United States, and a much stronger armed forces than it was.  Because our armed forces was depleted.  We had old equipment.  

Now, we have — hey, you know better than anybody — $700 billion and $716 billion.  We have the most incredible new jets and everything.  We need it.  Not that I want to spend it, although it is jobs.  It’s all made in the United States.  

But Iran has to come back, and they have to talk.  And I’m not doing this from strength or weakness.  I’m just saying, at some point, I think they’re going to have to come back.  

If you look at what’s going on, companies are leaving left and right.  Mercedes Benz just left.  They’re all leaving.  They don’t want to be in Iran.  Because they have a choice: Do they want to be with Iran, or do they want to be with us?  

And we have, by — we picked up $10 trillion since my election.  We were being caught by China.  Now it’s going the other way.  People can’t believe it.  People have never seen this situation with China.  Everything’s always been — for 20 years, “Oh, China is so great.  China is so great.”  You don’t hear that so much anymore.  I love China; I think they’re great.  But you don’t hear that so much anymore.  You know who’s great now?  We’re great now.  

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Okay, how about just a couple more.  Now, I could be doing — I could be doing this all day long.  I could be doing this all day long.  Should we continue for a little while?  It doesn’t matter to me.  A couple of more.  I don’t care.

New York Times, come on.  New York Times.  The failing New York Times.  Stand up.  Go ahead.

Q    You’re talking about me, but (inaudible).

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I’m talking about the Times is failing.  You are far from failing.  Go ahead.

Q    Okay, but you’re not — you were pointing to me, so you meant me.  But I —

THE PRESIDENT:  The Times are very interesting, though.  The Times, I think they’re going to endorse me.  (Laughter.)  I think that ABC — I think — well, Fox — I like Fox.  I really do.

Q    Just to be sure —

THE PRESIDENT:  But I think ABC, CBS, NBC, the Times, the — they’re all going to endorse me, because if they don’t, they’re going out of business.  Can you imagine if you didn’t have me?

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Laughter in General Assembly? Fake News

Q    Yesterday, you were talking about your administration’s accomplishments at the United Nations, and a lot of the leaders laughed.  Why do you think they were laughing? 

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, that’s fake news.  

Q    And what was that experience like for you?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  It was fake news.  And it was covered that way.  Okay.  So, I said that, since my election, our economy has become the hottest in the world.  Tax reductions, regulations, confidence levels are the highest in 18 years — really, soon to be historic.  Unemployment is the lowest in the history of our country.  You look at Black unemployment.  You look at Asian unemployment.  You look at women — 65 years.  The unemployment numbers are among the best we’ve ever had ever.  The numbers of new companies pouring into our country, which nobody thought was possible.  

And I said this.  And I was in front of a large group of highly professional people, most of whom are from either other countries or the United Nations — people that aren’t big into clapping, applauding, smiling.  And I heard a little rustle, as I said our country is now stronger than ever before.  It’s true.  I mean, it is true.  And I heard a little rustle.  And I said, “It’s true.”  And I heard smiles.  And I said, “Oh, I didn’t know there there’d be that kind…”  They weren’t laughing at me.  They were laughing with me.  We had fun.  That was not laughing at me. 

So the fake news said, “People laughed at President Trump.”  They didn’t laugh at me.  People had a good time with me.  We were doing it together.  We had a good time.  They respect what I’ve done.  

The United States is respected again.  The United States was not respected.  Everybody was taking advantage of us.  From jobs, and taking our companies, and not paying the price — to so many other things, even military protection.  

I told a number of countries over the last few days, I said, “Listen, you’re a very rich country.  We protect you.  Without our protection, you would have real problems.  You would have real problems.”  

THE PRESIDENT:  I said, “You should reimburse us for this protection.  Why are we protecting you?”  And do you want to know what they said after about two minutes of talking?  They agreed with me.  And you can ask this group of very talented people — they agreed with me.  

But they said — one of them said, “But Mr. President, nobody ever asked us for that.  They never asked us for that.”  Nobody has ever said, “You should pay.”  These are really wealthy countries.  

I mean, I’ll be honest, I just asked Japan.  I said, “We’re defending you.  You’re a very wealthy country.  You’re sending us millions of cars.  You’re making a fortune.  We have a tremendous trade deficit with you.  And we’re defending you, and we’re subsidizing your military with a massive amount of money.” 

I said it to South Korea.  We have 32,000 soldiers in South Korea.  They’re a very wealthy — these are great countries.  These are very wealthy countries.  I said, “Why aren’t you reimbursing us for our costs?”  

And you know what?  They look at me, and they can’t even answer it, because there’s no answer.  If they’re a poor country and they needed protection, and people were going to die, I’m all for protecting them; I don’t want 10 cents.  But when wealthy countries that have massive trade surpluses with us — massive — and then on top of that, we’re paying for their military?  Or we’re paying for a lot of their military?  That doesn’t work.  

 

Kinship with Kavanaugh?

Q    Mr. President, you said you feel a kinship — you said you feel a kinship with Brett Kavanaugh and you — Mr. President, really quickly, you said you felt a kinship with Brett Kavanaugh.  You said that you also — your false allegations that you feel like were made against you make you feel like you don’t want to believe these women.  What message do you think that – 

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I didn’t say that.  Why do you say that? 

Q    So, please explain —

THE PRESIDENT:  Fake news.  

Q    Please explain — 

THE PRESIDENT:  Why — did I say that?  

Q    Well, can you please explain then what you’re talking about in your own false allegations?

THE PRESIDENT:  I said, exactly, “I look forward to watching her.”  I do want to hear what she says.  And maybe she’ll say — I could be convinced of anything.  Maybe, if she’ll say something — but in the meantime, I have to tell you, he’s one of the highest quality human beings.

He’s a tremendous man.  He’s a tremendous genius.  He’s a great intellect.  He was, I believe, number one at Yale.  Is that a correct statement?  Number one in his class at Yale.

Q    So you don’t feel a kinship with him?

THE PRESIDENT:  He was a great student in law.  He was — you know, I’ve heard his name.  I didn’t know him.  Didn’t know him.  Until this whole thing, I didn’t know him.  But I heard his name for 10 years.

And you know how I heard his name?  Everybody was saying he should be on the Supreme Court.  I said, “Who is he?”  “His name is Brett Kavanaugh.  And he should be — he’s the most brilliant person.  He’s the most brilliant lawyer.”  They were talking about him on the Supreme Court 10 years ago.  With all of that, I want to hear what she has to say.  Okay?

Q    But you said that you don’t feel — but you said that you feel like there have been numerous false allegations against you, and that because of that–

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, I’ve had many false —

Q    — you feel that you understand what he might be going through.

THE PRESIDENT:  I’ve had many false statements against me.  And if the press would have reported it, I would have been very happy.  I think John Roberts would tell you that — you covered the story where the women were paid to say bad things about me.  Sean Hannity covered it.  

I will tell you, when I saw that on Sean Hannity, I actually called him.  Believe it or not, I don’t speak to him very much, but I respect him.  I called him.  I said, “This is the biggest story.  This is a big, big story.”  He agreed with me.  The next day, I picked up the papers.  There wasn’t one word about it.  The next day, I watched ABC news.  John, I watched NBC.  I watched CBS.  I didn’t watch CNN, but, next time, I’m going to.  (Laughter.) 

THE PRESIDENT:  I watched everything.  There wasn’t one story other than Fox.  And it’s a big story.  It’s a shame.  Okay.  Enough.  Thank you, though.

Jared Kushner has been Trump’s key representative on the Israel-Palestine issue. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Israel & Two-State Solution: US Embassy in Jerusalem a Bargain

Q   Today, you met with Bibi Netanyahu, from Israel.  And you brought up, actually, that you support a two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli crisis there. 

THE PRESIDENT:  I do. 

Q    Can you give us any more preview of what this great deal, the peace deal (inaudible) — 

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’d love to be able to make a deal with the Israelis and the Palestinians.  You know, my whole life, I was told that’s the toughest deal.  And I disagree.  I think healthcare is probably tougher, okay?  You want to know the truth.  But it is tough.  But we’re going to take care of that, too.  And that’s going to get taken care of.  We’ve already taken care of a lot of it. 

But the whole — my life, I’ve always heard the deal between, as you know, Israel and the Palestinians, that’s like the toughest deal.  Every possible thing is tough about that.  I think we’re going to make a deal.  I think we’re going to make a deal.  

So, at one of our many meetings today, I was with Bibi Netanyahu, a man who I have a lot of respect for.  A man who has been extremely nice to me — very happy that I did the whole thing with Jerusalem and the embassy, which, by the way, we’re going to open in four months for less than $500,000.  And the budget was over $1 billion, right? 

Q    Yes.  That’s correct. 

THE PRESIDENT:  So we saved, let’s say, a billion dollars.  That’s not so bad.  And it’s open.  And it’s beautiful, by the way.  Jerusalem stone, one of my favorite stones. 

I will tell you, the question — somebody said today, “Well, this is the first news conference in a long time.”  I said, “What do you mean?  I did like, five today.”  Every time I sit, I take a lot of questions from people that are screaming like maniacs in the back of the room — meaning, reporters.  

And one of the reporters — I won’t say that it was John Roberts that said that, I refuse.  But one of the — it was, but that’s okay.  Don’t feel guilty, John.  But of the reporters that was screaming asked about the one-state, two-state.  And I said, “I think the two-state will happen.  I think it’s, in one way, more difficult because it’s a real estate deal — because you need metes and bounds, and you need lots of carve-outs and lots of everything.  It’s actually a little tougher deal.  But in another way, it works better because you have people governing themselves. 

So, they asked be about that.  I said, “Well, I think the two-state will happen.  I think we’re going to go down the two-state road.”  And I’m glad I got it out.  And Jared, who is so involved — he loves Israel.  He loves Israel.  But he’s also going to be very fair with the Palestinians.  He understands it takes two people to be happy — two groups of people to be happy.  Everybody has got to be happy.  And that’s why it’s so tough, because there’s been so much hatred and anger for so many years.  That’s what, probably, the number-one ingredient of toughness is.  But they asked me — I said I think it’s going to be a two-state.  

And you know what I did today?  By saying that, I put it out there.  And if you ask most of the people in Israel, they agree with that.  But nobody wanted to say it.  It’s a big thing to put it out.  It’s a very big thing to put it out.  

Now, the bottom line: If the Israelis and the Palestinians want one state, that’s okay with me.  If they want two states, that’s okay with me.  I’m happy if they’re happy.  I’m a facilitator.  I want to see if I can get a deal done so that people don’t get killed anymore.  

When we had — in Saudi Arabia, we had one of the great conferences in history.  Many of you were there; probably all of you were there.  It was one of the most beautiful two days.  That, and China — two of the most incredible events I’ve ever seen.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  

And we had, I believe, 58 Muslim countries — the leaders.  The kings, the emirs, the absolute leaders from every — there was nobody in second place.  They were the leaders of the whole thing.  

And unbeknownst to anybody else, people would come up to me, individually — it wasn’t a setup.  They’d come up to me and say, “Sir, you can’t have peace in the Middle East without peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”  I said, “Why?  What difference?  Why does that matter so much?”  They said, “It just is impossible to make peace in the Middle East unless you have between the Israelis…”  

So, I heard that from one — the King of Saudi Arabia, who is a great guy — King Salman.  And then, somebody else came up.  And he wasn’t told, “Oh, go up and say it.”  I know where they’re coming from.  And I must have had 12 leaders say it.  And they just said it.  

And I started to realize that peace between Israel and the Palestinians, for the Middle East, is a very important thing.  And we’re trying very hard to get it.  I think, probably, two-state is more likely.  But you know what?  If they do a single, if they do a double, I’m okay with it if they’re both happy.  If they’re both happy, I’m okay with either.  I think the two-state is more likely. 

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Okay, how about one — go ahead.

Q    New York Times?  New York Times?

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, okay.

Q    Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  I would have gotten bad story in the New York Times.  But I will anyways, so I guess it doesn’t matter.

Q    We’re — we’re kind of, uh —

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, we’ll do you after that.

Q    We’re kind of, uh —

THE PRESIDENT:  And then we’ll call it quits.

Q    We’re kind of thriving, not failing these days.

THE PRESIDENT:  You’re doing very well.

Q    Yeah.

THE PRESIDENT:  Say, “Thank you, Mr. Trump.”  (Laughter.)

Q    (Laughs).  I think I’ll stop short of that.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I wonder how you do — you know, all my life, I’ve had very few stories — but I’ve had some on the front page of the New York Times.  Now, I think I think I average about three or four a day, right?

THE PRESIDENT:  And, of the three or four, they’re all negative.  No matter what I do, they’re negative.  But you know what?  That’s okay.  I still love the paper.

Go ahead.  (Laughter.)

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

China Trade War

Q    I wanted to come back to China, because I think what you announced today was really important.

THE PRESIDENT:  I agree.

Q    You talk about this friendship you have with Xi Jinping, and yet, essentially, what you did today is accused his government — 

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s right. 

Q    — of interfering in our internal affairs — 

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s right. 

Q    — subverting our Democratic process, and doing it to hurt you, the Republican Party — 

THE PRESIDENT:  Doing it to help them. 

Q    — and your backers. 

THE PRESIDENT:  You know what?  Yeah.  Doing it to help them. 

     Q    So how can a guy who does that be your friend? 

     THE PRESIDENT:  I think that we are able to — and maybe he’s not anymore.  I’ll be honest with you, I think we had a very good friendship.  I think we had a very good relationship; we understand each other.  They are doing studies on Donald Trump.  They’re trying to figure it all out because this has never happened to them before.  It’s never happened.  

     Think of it, you’ve never seen — you’ve covered very well — you’ve never seen this happen.  They’re having big problems.  I don’t want them to have problems, but they got to make a fair deal.  Just like Canada has got to make a fair deal.  

     I believe that he and I have a very good chemistry together.  And I can tell you that about many leaders.  I can also tell you a few where I don’t feel I’ll ever have a chemistry with them.  I don’t want to have a chemistry with them.  And for those people, I’ll have Pompeo, Nikki, Bolton, Jared.  I can go — our general; I’ll have our general.  Or if they can’t do it, I’ll have Sarah Huckabee do it.  Right? 

     But for the most part, I have very good — very good with Prime Minister Abe.  Very good with President Moon.  

     By the way, what President Moon said last night — I know you won’t report it — but Bret Baier interviewed him last night and he asked him about me.  I can’t say — because you would say I’m too braggadocios — but what he said about me last night was an unbelievable thing.  “Couldn’t have happened without President Trump, and it never would happen without President Trump.  And nobody else could do it.”  You know, I mean, you’ll take a look.  

But I will tell you, China is very special.  Very special.  They’re incredible people.  It’s an incredible country.  What they’ve done is unbelievable.  

Q    How would — 

THE PRESIDENT:  And it all started with the WTO.  It was a defective deal.  And it all started — without the WTO, China is not China as we know it today.  

And then it started also by — our people that are standing right in this position, that are in the Oval Office — another way of saying it — allowed them to get away with murder.  Allowed a lot of countries to get away with murder. 

I think we still probably have a very good relationship.  But you know what?  In honor of you, I will, tomorrow, make a call to him.  Say, “Hey, how you doing?”  Okay?  

Q    Can I — can I just ask — 

THE PRESIDENT:  “You don’t mind paying billions of dollars a month in tariffs.” 

Q    I just had two small follow-ups.  One is, how would you compare the level of interference you see today from the Chinese to what Russia did in 2016? 

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think it’s different.  If you look at the Des Moines Register, I mean, they have ads that are made to look like editorials.  Saying about, “Oh, you got to stop Trump.  You got to stop him.  You got to vote against him.”  My farmers are so incredible.  These are patriots.  

     You know, on a network that doesn’t like me very much — which is most of them — but a network that didn’t — doesn’t really treat me very good, they interviewed farmers.  And they got hurt because, you know, all of a sudden China stops buying.  

By the way, they’ve started buying again.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed.  And soybeans are going up, and things are going up.  And we’ve had very little hurt from what I’ve done.  In fact, the markets have gone up.  And the farmers are going to do great.  

But, ultimately — but they had farmers, and these guys are amazing; I love them.  And they voted for me and they love me.  And they said, “We don’t care if we get hurt.  He’s doing the right thing.”  And, you know, a lot of people — it’s a complex game.  A lot of people don’t know exactly what it is.  They don’t know how to define “tariff.”  They don’t know it is really different than a tax, although it’s getting close. 

But they know that for the first time in many, many years, they have a President that’s fighting for them; that’s not letting their jobs be taken to other countries; that’s not allowing the kind of abuse that we — I mean, when you look at what happened, as an example, with NAFTA.  And for years — because it was never changed — NAFTA was defective deal the day it was signed.  

You know why?  Because they had a VAT tax of 17 percent and nobody from this country knew that.  And by the time they found out, which was about a week later, nobody went and changed it.  So you went many years and they never changed it.  There was a VAT tax that Mexico got.  So we were 17 or 16 points behind, before we even started.  NAFTA was a horrible thing. 

So the farmers and — by the way, the steel workers — you know, I stopped the dumping.  The dumping was horrible.  And now if they want to dump, that’s okay, but they’ve got to pay the United States of America 25 percent on everything they dump.  That’s okay.  But as I told you before, steel is doing phenomenally well. 

But the farmers say, “This man is fighting for us.  No President has ever fought for us before.”  And you really have to study what’s happened over the 15 years with the farm.  The farmers have been decimated over a 15-year period.  They’ve been decimated.  The farmers are going to come out great.  These are great people.  They’re great, great patriots.

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

What Message Kavanaugh Hearings Sending Young Men? 

Q    You were asked earlier in the news conference by my friend from Sky News about the message that you are sending to the women of the country. What about the message that you may be sending to young men?  You’re a father.  What does this moment that we’re in — the cultural moment — 

     THE PRESIDENT:  It’s a very big cultural moment.  

Q    Right.  So what messages do you for young men of America? 

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s a very big — it’s also — you’re right.  I think it’s a great question. 

     This is a very big moment for our country because you have a man who is very outstanding, but he’s got very strong charges against him — probably charges that nobody is going to be able be — to prove.  

So I could have you chosen for a position.  I could have you, or you, or you — anybody.  And somebody could say things.  And it’s happened to me many times, where false statements are made.  And honestly, nobody knows who to believe. 

     I could pick another Supreme Court judge — Justice.  I could pick another one.  Another one.  Another one.  This could go on forever.  Somebody could come and say, “Thirty years ago, twenty-five years ago, ten years ago, five years ago, he did a horrible thing to me.  He did this.  He did that.  He did that.”  

And honestly, it’s a very dangerous period in our country.  And it’s being perpetrated by some very evil people.  Some of them are Democrats, I must say.  Because some of them know that this is just a game that they’re playing.  It’s a con game.  It’s at the highest level.  We’re talking about the United States Supreme Court.  

This can go on forever.  I can pick five other people.  At a certain point, the people are going to say, “No, thank you.”  This is the most coveted job, probably, in the world.  

And you know what?  I would honestly say — because I interviewed great people for this job.  He’s great, but I interviewed other great people for this job.  I could conceivably imagine going to one of them and saying, “It’s too bad what happened to this wonderful man, but I’m going to choose you, number two.  I want you to go.”  And I could conceivably be turned down by somebody that desperately wanted this job two months ago. 

     THE PRESIDENT:  So this is — this is — and this is beyond Supreme Court.  

THE PRESIDENT:  There’s nothing beyond Supreme Court; this is beyond Supreme Court.  This has everything to do with our country. 

     When you are guilty until proven innocent, it’s just not supposed to be that way.  Always I heard, “You’re innocent until proven guilty.”  I’ve heard this for so long, and it’s such a beautiful phrase.  In this case, you’re guilty until proven innocent.  I think that is a very, very dangerous standard for our country.  

     With that being said, I look forward to what she has to say.  I also look very forward to what Judge Kavanaugh has to say.  I think it’s going to be a very, very important day in the history of our country.

 END                 6:19 P.M. EDT

____________________________

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Cuomo Calls on New York Lawmakers to Vote to Codify Roe v Wade Protections in Special Session

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo with JoAnn Smith, CEO of Nassau County Planned Parenthood, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas and members of Planned Parenthood. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was joined today by Nassau County leaders at a rally in New Hyde Park to fight to protect women’s reproductive rights. State and local leaders called on the Senate to return to Albany to codify Roe v. Wade into New York State Law. The rally follows the federal government’s decision Monday night to nominate Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The Governor vowed to take action to defend New York’s progressive values against the extreme conservative agenda of the Trump Administration, including the fight to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade into state law. New actions were also announced by the Governor on Monday to protect reproductive rights in anticipation of this Supreme Court Justice nomination.

“This federal government is threatening basic values New York and this entire nation were built upon, and while extreme conservatives in Washington make destructive decisions that violate the rights of our residents, New York is fighting to protect the progressive accomplishments that we have made,” Governor Cuomo said. “I call on every Senate Republican to come back and reconvene in Albany – no excuses. The Assembly will support codification of Roe v. Wade, I will sign the bill, the Senate Democrats will vote in favor of it and we will pass Roe v. Wade for New York.”

At a rally on Long Island, Governor Andrew Cuomo vowed to take action to defend New York’s progressive values against the extreme conservative agenda of the Trump Administration, including the fight to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade into state law. New actions were also announced by the Governor on Monday to protect reproductive rights in anticipation of this Supreme Court Justice nomination. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Noting that elections have consequences, Cuomo laid out the challenge to return to Albany to codify Roe into state law as a line in the sand.

“When you’re talking to our friends the Republican Senators, remind them in 1970, before Roe v. Wade, which was 1973, this state legalized abortion. 1970. With a Republican Senate and a Republican Governor because we understood it wasn’t a partisan issue, it was a fairness issue. It was a health issue. It was an equality issue. It was a woman being able to control her own body issue. We did it in 1970, don’t tell me in 2018 the Republican Senate is going to go backwards from 1970. We have to call to question. Elections have consequences and this is binary. They’re with us, they’re against us. And if they don’t come back, if they don’t codify Roe v. Wade, you know what we’re going to say?

“In the immortal words of President Trump, to the senators who won’t come back and sign a bill, you’re fired. We’re protecting the women in the state of New York. Women’s rights come first. Let’s sign the state Executive Order.”

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul who attended a similar rally to protective reproductive rights with Governor Cuomo in Yonkers earlier, said, “I lost my seat in Congress over my steadfast support of the Affordable Care Act and the contraception mandate, and I know how critically important it is to protect these rights at the state level. That is why I stand with the Governor and the women of this great state in fighting back to ensure protections and safety for women when it comes to their reproductive health. Given all that is happening in Washington, these actions will protect women’s reproductive rights. As President of the State Senate, I’m also calling on Senate Republican leadership to protect the women of this state and pass the Reproductive Health Act and codify Roe v. Wade. No one should tell us what to do with our bodies. Not now, not ever.”

For years, Governor Cuomo has pushed to codify the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision and subsequent rulings into state law to secure women’s access to reproductive health options, and noted that Republicans made a pretense of supporting women’s rights but blocked any consideration on the floor based on the federal protection under Roe. Now the Governor is calling their bluff and calling for the passage of legislation to protect the right of women to make personal health care decisions and ensure that health care professionals can provide these crucial services without fear of criminal penalty. The Assembly has passed legislation to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade for the last six years, including during the 2018 Legislative Session.

Additionally, through regulations by the Department of Financial Services and Department of Health, as directed by the Governor on Monday, New York State will ensure an insurer must cover over the counter emergency contraception in addition to all other contraceptive drugs, devices or other products for women approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration and, as well as the dispensing of 12 months of contraceptive at one time, all without co-insurance, co-pays or deductibles. The Executive Order signed by the Governor on Monday, in addition to today’s rally, builds on Governor Cuomo’s 2018 Women’s Agenda: Equal Rights, Equal Opportunity.

The updated DFS regulation mandates that health insurers:

  • Expand coverage requirements for contraceptive drugs, devices or other products for women approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration. Require coverage for emergency contraception with no cost sharing when acquired in any lawful manner including on an over the counter basis from an out of network pharmacy;
  • Permit a woman to fill 12 months of a prescribed contraceptive at one time, removing the previously required three-month trial period;
  • Cover voluntary sterilization procedures for women and over-the-counter contraceptives without cost-sharing; and
  • Do not place restrictions or delays on contraceptive coverage not otherwise authorized under the regulation.  This provision would prohibit quantity limits and other such restrictions.

The regulation codifies guidance issued in January 2017 regarding information that must be provided in formularies regarding contraceptives, including noting which contraceptives are covered without cost-sharing.  Insurers will be required to publish an easily accessible, up-to-date, accurate and complete list of all covered contraceptive drugs, devices and other products on their formulary drug lists, including any tiering structure and any restrictions on the manner in which a drug may be obtained.

The accompanying DOH regulations permit a woman insured through Medicaid to fill 12 months of a prescribed contraceptive at one time, whereas previously, the limit was three months.

A copy of the proposed regulations can be found here.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signs executive order to expand access to contraception, as 3-year old Emily Mollar, with her mother, Sue, of Merrick, look on, along with Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Nassau County Planned Parenthood CEO JoAnn Smith, and other women’s rights advocates. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Women’s rights are under attack. Another Trump-appointed Justice will guarantee an ultra-conservative Court that is even more hostile to women’s health care protections. This will have dire consequences if we don’t act because New York decriminalized abortion before the Roe v. Wade decision,” Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “The women of New York State are looking to us to protect their hard-won rights, and we must not fail them.”

“The administration in Washington is preparing yet another assault on women’s reproductive rights with the nomination of an ultra-conservative Supreme Court justice. Earlier this year, and in countless previous legislative sessions, the New York State Assembly passed legislation to codify Roe v. Wade,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said. “Year after year, our Republican colleagues in the Senate neglect to pass this legislation, insisting there is no threat to Roe v. Wade. Their inaction has shamefully put women’s reproductive health care in jeopardy. It’s time to codify Roe v. Wade. No more excuses.”

“The Trump Administration is committed to ensuring that millions of women across America lose essential access to the health care they absolutely require. We are facing an unprecedented attack on our health care, and rights by a federal government determined to replace evidence-based medically accurate public policy with politically driven ideology,” Robin Chappelle Golston, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, said. “Governor Cuomo is standing up today to remind the nation that New York won’t go backwards; we won’t sit back quietly as our rights evaporate and we will resist this dismantling of our constitutionally protected rights.”

“Armed with a Supreme Court vacancy, the Trump regime is poised to pack the court in an effort to undo Roe v. Wade and curtail abortion to an extent not seen since 1973. New York can no longer put off fixing our state’s broken abortion law,” New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “The Reproductive Health Act would take abortion out of the criminal code so that New York can be a safe-haven where women and their health are valued and protected. That means codifying Roe and ensuring access to the information and services women — including pregnant women — need to protect their health.”

Andrea Miller, President of the National Institute for Reproductive Health said, “Governor Cuomo’s executive order today proves that, regardless of what happens at the federal level, states have tremendous power to shape their own state laws and can act now to protect women from the full-blown assault on their reproductive health and rights. The best defense against a hostile Supreme Court and Trump-Pence Administration is a strong state-level offense. States around the country should take note of this action – and Governor Cuomo’s previous regulations – and help lead the movement for reproductive freedom from the ground up.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo stands with Planned Parenthood at rally in New Hyde Park, Long Island © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Cuomo Draws Line in the Sand for State Republican Lawmakers

Cuomo said that with the Trump administration dismantling rights – civil rights, voting rights, environmental and financial protections, a woman’s right to choose – it is up to the states to take action.

“Every day this federal government does something that is shocking to our senses…It’s shocking to us in New York because we are the exact opposite. We’re night and day from who they are and what they believe so we’re continually in a state of shock, but they are doing what they said they were going to do, and elections have consequences.

“And it is a wake-up call to all of us. My daughters, you know if you’re 21, 22, 23, young women you never even questioned your reproductive rights. You grew up in a generation where you just assumed, you know Roe v. Wade was 1973. 1973. Generations just grew up assuming this was the way it was. Couldn’t even imagine that a woman wouldn’t have the right to control her own body. That’s what they are saying. And they are serious. And it’s not just politics and this isn’t just a game. They are doing it. They’re doing what they said they would do

“They have their own view of what religions are right and what lifestyles are right and what sexuality is right and who should be an American and who shouldn’t be an American, and they are going to enforce that. It’s the greatest act of political hypocrisy, because conservatives used to stand for limited government, right? Less federal government. Leave it to the states, leave it to the individual rights.

“They are on track to overturn Roe v. Wade. That’s what they want to do. That’s what they’ve wanted to do since it was passed in 1973. And it is a shock to the system. How could we possible go back to those days? Who even remembers what it was like before, when a woman couldn’t have an abortion? How many lost their lives, were damaged because of what they had to do in that situation? And that is what we’re looking at. They are pro-life.

“They also have their view of sexuality and they don’t agree with the LGBTQ community and that’s why they treat them as second-class citizens. Wanted to keep transgender out of the military, regardless of service, regardless of merits. They believe who should be an immigrant and who shouldn’t be an immigrant. A little hypocritical since we’re all immigrants, but they now decide they’re going to close the door. The separation of family policy – isn’t that a coincidence? They knew exactly what they were doing. They wanted to stop people at the border. The first point was, build a wall. I am going to build a big wall, nobody can come. The President didn’t get a wall so he went to the “zero tolerance” policy. And now what he says to families is, if you show up, I’m going to take your children from you and send them to a place where you don’t even know where they are. He knew exactly what he was doing. It was a deterrent to stop people from coming when he couldn’t get the wall.

“They’re going to tell you which religion is right. They don’t believe that Muslims are an appropriate religion, and that’s the travel ban. They don’t believe with labor unions. Thank God for the teamsters. They don’t want labor unions. They just passed the Janus decision with the Supreme Court because they don’t want these annoying unions being able to organize employees, making it harder for management to negotiate with the workforce. It’s who they are and what they said they were going to do. And it is a frightening reality.

“We believe the opposite and it’s incumbent on us to act. To act. We’re not going to let them change our values. We’re not going to let them change or philosophy. We’re not going to let them change the way we treat one another. We’re not going to let them change our tolerance to intolerance. We’re not going to allow them to divide us. They’re not going to pick who has the right lifestyle and who has the right religion and who has the right sexuality and who has the right income level to deserve respect. We’re not going to let them do that.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was joined today by Nassau County leaders at a rally in New Hyde Park to fight to protect women’s reproductive rights: NH Councilwoman Lee Seeman, NC Legislator Ellen Birnbaum, North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth, Planned Parenthood NC CEO JoAnn Smith, Town Clerk Wayne Wink, NH Councilwoman Anna Kaplan, Nassau CountyExecutive Laura Curran. State and local leaders called on the Senate to return to Albany to codify Roe v. Wade into New York State Law. The rally follows the federal government’s decision Monday night to nominate Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Federal government has rights, but you know what there was before the federal government? There were state governments and there were states’ rights. And states have the ability to stand up and act. And when they wouldn’t do anything in the face of the #MeToo movement, this state stood up and said, we’re going to pass the strongest anti-sexual harassment law in the United States of America. When they separated families at the border, this state stood up and said, that’s unconstitutional, it’s illegal, it violates due process, and we’re suing the federal government to put those families back together and to stop the separation.

“And we have to do the same thing on the issue of choice. They are going to overturn Roe v. Wade. We need a New York State law that codifies Roe v. Wade into the New York State law. And we need that law in place before they overturn Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court. Now, we’ve been trying to get the New York State legislature, the Senate, to pass a New York State Roe v. Wade. That’s all the law would say. Take the federal ruling in Roe v. Wade—1973—and enact it into a state law.

“Currently, the New York State law is not as strong as Roe v. Wade because we had Roe v. Wade. And I’ve been arguing with the Republicans in the Senate, frankly, why don’t we codify it into New York state law? And the Republican Senators have been saying to me, well we have Roe v. Wade. We don’t need it. No one would be crazy enough to overturn Roe v. Wade. That’s the answer JoAnn has been getting for years when Planned Parenthood would lobby for New York State law. We don’t need it, we have Roe v. Wade. Well you know what? Now we need it. Now we need it.

“And I want the New York State Senators to come back today, tomorrow, to go to Albany, and pass and New York State Roe v. Wade, period. And no excuses. No excuses. For years they’ve been doing this dance, the Republican Senators. Privately they say, I’m pro-choice, I’m pro-choice. When the bill comes up, I’m going to vote pro-choice. [Planned Parenthood of Nassau County CEO]JoAnn [Smith] will tell you. But then, they never let the bill come up. We tried to force a vote this legislative session. They won’t put the bill on the floor. Why? It’s a little game they play. It allows them to say privately, when the bill comes up, I’ll vote yes. But, the bill never comes up, so they can tell one audience, yes, I’m pro-choice. Then they can go to another audience and say, we’ll never pass choice in the state of New York.

“We have to call to question. This is binary. This is black and white. You are either pro-choice or you are not pro-choice and we don’t have Roe v.Wade to fall back on anymore. It’s only what we have in New York State law. And the New York State law does not go as far as Roe v. Wade and if we have only the New York State law, we’re in trouble. It does not do life and health. It is in the criminal code. We will have a problem. We need that law. We have to call to question and we have to say to the Republican Senators who have been having it both ways for too long, that’s over. You are with us or against us. And if you are with us don’t just tell me. Go up to Albany and pass a bill. That’s how I know that you are with the women and the men of this state who support choice. That’s what it has to be.

“In the meantime, I’m going to sign an Executive Order that guarantees the women in this state the right to contraception. I don’t care what the insurance company says or what the bureaucracy says. Women have the right to contraception. But we have to learn the lesson, my friends. Elections have consequences. Elections have consequences. And this is a wakeup call. If what they did on immigration and unions and what they did to Muslims wasn’t enough, this is an attack on every woman’s rights to control her own reproductive health in the United States of America. This is a direct attack on what we knew in 1970.”

Nassau County leaders who joined the Governor today in calling on the State Senate to reconvene and codify Roe v. Wade into state law included:

  • Nassau County Executive Laura Curran
  • Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas
  • Nassau County Legislator Ellen Birnbaum
  • Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth
  • Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Anna Kaplan
  • Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Lee Seeman
  • Town of North Hempstead Clerk Wayne Wink
  • Town of Hempstead Clerk Sylvia Cabana
  • JoAnn Smith, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Nassau County
  • Rebecca Sanin, President and CEO, Health and Welfare Council of Long Island
  • Matty Aracich, President, Nassau and Suffolk Building Trades Council

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© 2018 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Brooklyn Brawl: Democrats Clinton & Sanders Debate Universal Health Care, Social Security, Supreme Court & Women’s Reproductive Rights

Democratic Presidential Candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders meet for a debate moderated by CNN at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in Brooklyn, ahead of the April 19 New York State primary © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Democratic Presidential Candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders meet for a debate moderated by CNN at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in Brooklyn, ahead of the April 19 New York State primary © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Ahead of the April 19 New York State Primary, the gloves came off between the two contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, former Secretary of State and New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, at what is being called “The Brooklyn Brawl” – the Democratic Debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. 

The confrontation was the most contentious to date, but still substantive with both candidates making strong arguments on major issues. 

Here are annotated highlights from the “Brooklyn Brawl” – the debate between Democratic contenders for the nomination for president, former Secretary of State and New York State Senator Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, based on a transcript provided by CNN, the news organization that hosted the debate, April 14. 

In this section, the candidates debate universal health care, free college, the US Supreme Court, and for the first time in all the debates, what the Supreme Court means for women’s reproductive rights. 

Universal Health Care, Free College, Supreme Court

Senator Sanders, you’re promising health care and free college for all, and those plans would be met with both political and practical challenges. The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says your initiatives would cost up to $28 trillion and, even after massive tax increases, that would add as much as $15 trillion to the national debt. How is this fiscally responsible? 

SANDERS: Well, first of all, I disagree with that study. There are many economists who come up with very, very different numbers.

For example, we are the only country, major country on Earth, that does not guarantee health care to all people, and yet we end up spending almost three times what the British do, 50 percent more than the French. My proposal, a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program, will save (APPLAUSE) will save middle-class families many thousands of dollars a year in their health care costs. Public colleges and universities tuition free? Damn right. That is exactly what we should be doing. (APPLAUSE)

“And I’d pay for that — I’d pay for that by telling Wall Street that, yeah, we are going to have a tax on Wall Street speculation, which will bring in more than enough money to provide free tuition at public colleges and universities and lower the outrageous level of student debt.

“Wolf, we have seen in the last 30 years a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top 0.1 percent. The establishment does not like this idea, but, yes, I am determined to transfer that money back to the working families of this country. (APPLAUSE)

Former Secretary of State and NYS Senator Hillary Clinton © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Former Secretary of State and NYS Senator Hillary Clinton © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

CLINTON: Well, again — again, I absolutely agree with the diagnosis, the diagnosis that we’ve got to do much more to finish the work of getting universal health care coverage, something that I’ve worked on for 25 years. Before there was something called Obamacare, there was something called Hillarycare. And we’re now at 90 percent of coverage; I’m going to get us to 100 percent.

“And with respect to college, I think we have to make college affordable. We are pricing out middle-class, working, and poor families. There’s no doubt about that.

But I do think when you make proposals and you’re running for president, you should be held accountable for whether or not the numbers add up and whether or not the plans (APPLAUSE) are actually going to work.

“And just very briefly, on health care, most of the people who have analyzed what Senator Sanders put out — remember, he had a plan for about, I don’t know, 18, 20 years. He changed in the middle of this campaign. He put out another plan. People have been analyzing the new plan. And there is no doubt by those who have analyzed it, progressive economists, health economists, and the like, that it would pose an incredible burden, not just on the budget, but on individuals. In fact, the Washington Post called it a train-wreck for the poor. A working woman on Medicaid who already has health insurance would be expected to pay about $2,300.  

“The same for free college. The free college offer — you know, my late father said, if somebody promises you something for free, read the fine print. You read the fine print, and here’s what it says.  

“The fine print says this, that it will — the federal government will cover two-thirds of the cost and require the states, even those led by Republican governors to carry out what the remaining one-third of the cost.”

SANDERS: We are not a country that has the courage to stand up to big money and do what has to be done for the working families of the country. (APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: We have a difference of opinion. We both want to get to universal health care coverage. I did stand up to the special interests and the powerful forces, the health insurance companies and the drug companies. (APPLAUSE)

“And perhaps that’s why I am so much in favor of supporting President Obama’s signature accomplishment with the Affordable Care Act, because I know how hard it was to get that passed, even with a Democratic Congress. So rather than letting the Republicans repeal it or rather starting all over again, trying to throw the country into another really contentious debate, let’s make the Affordable Care Act work for everybody let’s get to 100 percent coverage, let’s get the cost down, and let’s guarantee health care.”

Social Security

BLITZER: Secretary, let’s talk about Social Security, another critically important issue. Senator Sanders has challenged you to give a clear answer when it comes to extending the life of Social Security and expanding benefits. Are you prepared to lift the cap on taxable income, which currently stands at $118,500? Yes or no, would you lift the cap? 

CLINTON: I have said repeatedly, Wolf, I am going to make the wealthy pay into Social Security to extend the Social Security Trust Fund. That is one way. If that is the way that we pursue, I will follow that.

“But there are other ways. We should be looking at taxing passive income by wealthy people. We should be looking at taxing all of their investment.

“But here’s the real issue, because I — I’ve heard this, I’ve seen the reports of it. I have said from the very beginning, we are going to protect Social Security. I was one of the leaders in the fight against Bush when he was trying to privatize Social Security.

“But we also, in addition to extending the Trust Fund, which I am absolutely determined to do, we’ve got to help people who are not being taken care of now. And because Social Security started in the 1930s, a lot of women have been left out and left behind.

“And it’s time that we provide more benefits for widows, divorcees, for caregivers, for women who deserve more from the Social Security system and that will be my highest priority.” (APPLAUSE)

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

SANDERS: Now, we’ve got — here is the issue. Your answer has been the same year after year. In fact, the idea that I’m bringing forth, I have to admit it, you know, it wasn’t my idea. It was Barack Obama’s idea in 2008, the exact same idea. (APPLAUSE)

“He called for lifting the cap, which is now higher — it’s at 118 — and starting at 250 and going on up. If you do that, you’re going to extend the life of Social Security for 58 years. You will significantly expand benefits by 1,300 bucks a year for seniors and disabled vets under $16,000 a year. What’s wrong with that? Are you prepared to support it?

CLINTON: I have supported it. You know, we are in vigorous agreement here, Senator.

‘You know, we’re having a discussion about the best way to raise money from wealthy people to extend the Social Security Trust Fund. Think about what the other side wants to do. They’re calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme. They still want to privatize it. In fact, their whole idea is to turn over the Social Security Trust Fund to Wall Street, something you and I would never let happen.

“I’ve said the same thing for years. I didn’t say anything different tonight. We are going to extend the Social Security Trust Fund. There is still something called Congress. Now, I happen to support Democrats and I want to get Democrats to take back the majority in the United States Senate so a lot of — a lot of what we’re talking about can actually be implemented when I am president.”

SANDERS: — maybe I’m a little bit confused.

“Are you or are you not supporting legislation to lift the cap on taxable income and expand Social Security for 58 years and increase benefits…”

CLINTON: I am…

SANDERS: — yes or no?

CLINTON: I have said yes, we are going to pick the best way or combination…

SANDERS: Oh, you — ah. (APPLAUSE) (BOOS)

SANDERS: OK.

CLINTON: — or combination of ways… (BOOS)

CLINTON: — you know… (BOOS)

CLINTON: — it — it’s all — it’s always a little bit, uh, challenging because, you know, if Senator Sanders doesn’t agree with how you are approaching something, then you are a member of the establishment. Well, let me say then…

SANDERS: Well, look (APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — let me say this (APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — we are going to extend the Social Security Trust Fund. We’ve got some good ideas to do it. Let’s get a Congress elected that will actually agree with us in doing it. 

SANDERS: Yes, Secretary Clinton (CROSSTALK) you are a member of the establishment. 

Supreme Court

Secretary Clinton, regarding President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme  Court. President Obama said earlier this week that he would not withdraw the nomination, even after the presidential election. If elected, would you ask the president to withdraw the nomination? 

CLINTON: I am not going to contradict the president’s strategy on this. And I’m not going to engage in hypotheticals. I fully support the president. (APPLAUSE)

“And I believe that the president — the president is on the right side of both the Constitution and history. And the Senate needs to immediately begin to respond. So I’m going to support the president. When I am president, I will take stock of where we are and move from there.” 

SANDERS: Well, there is no question. I mean, it really is an outrage. And it just continues, the seven-and-a-half years of unbelievable obstructionism we have seen from these right-wing Republicans.

“I mean, a third-grader in America understands the president of the United States has the right to nominate individuals to the U.S. Supreme Court. Apparently everybody understands that except the Republicans in Congress.

LOUIS: So, Senator Sanders, would you ask him to withdraw the nomination? 

SANDERS: Yes, but here is the point, and obviously i will strongly support that nomination as a member of the Senate. But, if elected president, I would ask the president to withdraw that nomination because I think — I think this.

“I think that we need a Supreme Court justice who will make it crystal clear, and this nominee has not yet done that, crystal clear that he or she will vote to overturn Citizens United and make sure that American democracy is not undermined.” (APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: You know, there is no doubt that the only people that I would ever appoint to the Supreme Court are people who believe that Roe V. Wade is settled law and Citizens United needs to be overturned. 

“And I want to say something about this since we’re talking about the Supreme Court and what’s at stake. We’ve had eight debates before, this is our ninth. We’ve not had one question about a woman’s right to make her own decisions about reproductive health care, not one question. (APPLAUSE)  

“And in the meantime we have states, governors doing everything they can to restrict women’s rights. We have a presidential candidate by the name of Donald Trump saying that women should be punished. And we are never asked about this.  

“And to be complete in my concern, Senator Sanders says with respect to Trump it was a distraction. I don’t think it’s a distraction. It goes to the heart of who we are as women, our rights, our autonomy, our ability to make our own decisions, and we need to be talking about that and defending Planned Parenthood from these outrageous attacks.”  

SANDERS: You’re looking at a senator and former congressman who proudly has a 100 percent pro-choice voting record, who will take on those Republican governors who are trying to restrict a woman’s right to choose, who will take on those governors right now who are discriminating outrageously against the LGBT community, who comes from a state which led the effort for gay marriage in this country, proudly so. (APPLAUSE)  Who not only thinks we are not going to — not defund Planned Parenthood, we’ve got to expand funding for Planned Parenthood. (APPLAUSE)

See also:

Brooklyn Brawl: Democrats Clinton & Sanders Debate Qualifications, Credibility 

Brooklyn Brawl: Democrats Clinton & Sanders Debate Gun Violence & Criminal Justice

Brooklyn Brawl: Democrats Clinton & Sanders Debate Climate Change, Energy & Environment

Brooklyn Brawl: Democrats Clinton & Sanders Debate National Security & Foreign Policy

Brooklyn Brawl: Democrats Clinton & Sanders Debate US-Israel Relations

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© 2016 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, email editor@news-photos-features.com. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Brooklyn Brawl: Democrats Clinton & Sanders Debate US-Israel Relations

Democratic Presidential Candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders meet for a debate moderated by CNN at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in Brooklyn, ahead of the April 19 New York State primary © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Democratic Presidential Candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders meet for a debate moderated by CNN at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in Brooklyn, ahead of the April 19 New York State primary © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Ahead of the April 19 New York State Primary, the gloves came off between the two contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, former Secretary of State and New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, at what is being called “The Brooklyn Brawl” – the Democratic Debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. 

The confrontation was the most contentious to date, but still substantive with both candidates making strong arguments on major issues. 

Here are annotated highlights from the “Brooklyn Brawl” – the debate between Democratic contenders for the nomination for president, former Secretary of State and New York State Senator Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, based on a transcript provided by CNN, the news organization that hosted the debate, April 14. 

Of all the issues raised during the Brooklyn debate, the only one of particular importance to the New York primary voters raised concerned US-Israel Relations. It also inspired surprising reaction from the audience. 

US-Israel Relations 

BLITZER: Senator, let’s talk about the U.S. relationship with Israel. Senator Sanders, you maintained that Israel’s response in Gaza in 2014 was, quote, “disproportionate and led to the unnecessary loss of innocent life.” (APPLAUSE) What do you say to those who believe that Israel has a right to defend itself as it sees fit?  

SANDERS: Well, as somebody who spent many months of my life when I was a kid in Israel, who has family in Israel, of course Israel has a right not only to defend themselves, but to live in peace and security without fear of terrorist attack. That is not a debate. (APPLAUSE)

“But — but what you just read, yeah, I do believe that. Israel was subjected to terrorist attacks, has every right in the world to destroy terrorism. But we had in the Gaza area — not a very large area — some 10,000 civilians who were wounded and some 1,500 who were killed.

“Now, if you’re asking not just me, but countries all over the world was that a disproportionate attack, the answer is that I believe it was, and let me say something else. (APPLAUSE) (CHEERING) As somebody who is 100% pro-Israel, in the long run — and this is not going to be easy, God only knows, but in the long run if we are ever going to bring peace to that region which has seen so much hatred and so much war, we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity. (APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

“So what is not to say — to say that right now in Gaza, right now in Gaza unemployment is s somewhere around 40%. You got a log of that area continues, it hasn’t been built, decimated, houses decimated health care decimated, schools decimated. I believe the United States and the rest of the world have got to work together to help the Palestinian people. That does not make me anti-Israel. That paves the way, I to an approach that works in the Middle East.”  (APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton, do you agree with Senator Sanders that Israel overreacts to Palestinians attacks, and that in order for there to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel must, quote, end its disproportionate responses?

CLINTON: I negotiated the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in November of 2012. I did it in concert with (APPLAUSE) President Abbas of the Palestinian authority based in Ramallah, I did it with the then Muslim Brotherhood President, Morsi, based in Cairo, working closely with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli cabinet. I can tell you right now I have been there with Israeli officials going back more than 25 years that they do not seek this kind of attacks. They do not invite the rockets raining down on their towns and villages. (APPLAUSE)

“They do not believe that there should be a constant incitement by Hamas aided and abetted by Iran against Israel. And, so when it came time after they had taken the incoming rockets, taken the assaults and ambushes on their soldiers and they called and told me, I was in Cambodia, that they were getting ready to have to invade Gaza again because they couldn’t find anybody to talk to tell them to stop it, I flew all night, I got there, I negotiated that.

“So, I don’t know how you run a country when you are under constant threat, terrorist tact, rockets coming at you. You have a right to defend yourself. [She said with increasing assertiveness.] (APPLAUSE)

“That does not mean — that does not mean that you don’t take appropriate precautions. And, I understand that there’s always second guessing anytime there is a war. It also does not mean that we should not continue to do everything we can to try to reach a two-state solution, which would give the Palestinians the rights and…” 

BLITZER: … Thank you…

CLINTON: … just let me finish. The rights and the autonomy that they deserve. And, let me say this, if Yasser Arafat had agreed with my husband at Camp David in the Late 1990s to the offer then Prime Minister Barat put on the table, we would have had a Palestinian state for 15 years. (APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

“…of course there have to be precautions taken but even the most independent analyst will say the way that Hamas places its weapons, the way that it often has its fighters in civilian garb, it is terrible. (AUDIENCE REACTION)

“I’m not saying it’s anything other than terrible…remember, Israel left Gaza. They took out all the Israelis. They turned the keys over to the Palestinian people.  And what happened? Hamas took over Gaza.

“So instead of having a thriving economy with the kind of opportunities that the children of the Palestinians deserve, we have a terrorist haven that is getting more and more rockets shipped in from Iran and elsewhere.”  

Sanders then attacked Clinton for not “discussing the needs of the Palestinian people,” in her speech to AIPAC, the American-Jewish organization that lobbies on behalf of Israel.

CLINTON: Well, if I — I want to add, you know, again describing the problem is a lot easier than trying to solve it. And I have been involved, both as first lady with my husband’s efforts, as a senator supporting the efforts that even the Bush administration was undertaking, and as secretary of state for President Obama, I’m the person who held the last three meetings between the president of the Palestinian Authority and the prime minister of Israel.

“There were only four of us in the room, Netanyahu, Abbas, George Mitchell, and me. Three long meetings. And I was absolutely focused on what was fair and right for the Palestinians.

“I was absolutely focused on what we needed to do to make sure that the Palestinian people had the right to self-government. And I believe that as president I will be able to continue to make progress and get an agreement that will be fair both to the Israelis and the Palestinians without ever, ever undermining Israel’s security.” (APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: There comes a time — there comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time.”

CLINTON: If you are from whatever perspective trying to seek peace, trying to create the conditions for peace when there is a terrorist group embedded in Gaza that does not want to see you exist, that is a very difficult challenge. 

Sanders Strategist Weighs In

In the spin room after the debate, Sanders’ campaign strategist Tad Devine was asked whether Sanders’ comments about Israel could get him into trouble in New York?

Bernie Sanders campaign strategist Tad Devine © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Bernie Sanders campaign strategist Tad Devine © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The thing about Bernie Sanders is he doesn’t give answers to seek political advantage. He says what he believes. And I think he believes sincerely – and this is from someone who is Jewish, someone who spent 6 months on a kibbutz in Israel, who has a number of family members there –  he believes the best way forward for peace is the one he described tonight. I would just suggest that the answers he gives not just on that issue, but a number of issues, are not given for political calculation but are given because  this is what he believes.”

Next: Universal Health Care, Free College, Supreme Court

 

See also:

Brooklyn Brawl: Democrats Clinton & Sanders Debate Qualifications, Credibility 

Brooklyn Brawl: Democrats Clinton & Sanders Debate Gun Violence & Criminal Justice

Brooklyn Brawl: Democrats Clinton & Sanders Debate Climate Change, Energy & Environment

Brooklyn Brawl: Democrats Clinton & Sanders Debate National Security & Foreign Policy

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© 2016 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, email editor@news-photos-features.com. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Obama Warns Senate Republicans’ that Politicization of SCOTUS Confirmation Will Undermine Credibility of Court

President Obama has a right and a duty to nominate a replacement to Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court and the Senate has a duty to hold hearings and take a vote. © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
President Obama has a right and a duty to nominate a replacement to Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court and the Senate has a duty to hold hearings and take a vote.
© 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

With the care and consideration of a Constitutional lawyer, President Obama laid out his argument for his authority and responsibility to nominate a Justice to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the death of Antonin Scalia, and the Senate’s obligation and responsibility to “advise” and hold a vote. 

He chastised – and warned – about the politicization of the process which ultimately undermines “the credibility” and the authority of the Supreme Court, itself, just as the ability of government to function has been undermined by extreme partisanship and polarization: 

“If, in fact, the Republicans in the Senate take a posture that defies the Constitution, defies logic, is not supported by tradition simply because of politics, then invariably what you’re going to see is a further deterioration in the ability of any President to make any judicial appointments,” President Obama said. “And appointments to the Supreme Court as well as the federal bench suddenly become a complete extension of our polarized politics…the credibility of the Court itself begins to diminish because it’s viewed simply as an extension of our politics.” 

Here’s the full transcript of Obama’s comments on the Supreme Court process. He spoke at length – about 10 minutes – in answer to a question at a press conference: 

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, the Constitution says that I nominate candidates for the Supreme Court when there’s a vacancy, and that the Senate exercises its constitutional role in advise and consent.  I’m going to do my job.  We are going to go through a process, as we have done in two previous Supreme Court vacancies, to identify an outstanding candidate that has impeccable legal credentials and would bring the kind of ability and compassion and objectivity and legal reasoning to the Court that the Highest Court in the Land demands.

One side made the nomination, and then Leader McConnell and all the members of the Senate are going to make a decision about how do they fulfill their constitutional responsibilities.  I recognize the politics are hard for them, because the easier thing to do is to give in to the most extreme voices within their party and stand pat and do nothing.  But that’s not our job.  Our job is to fulfill our constitutional duties.

And so my hope and expectation is that once there is an actual nominee and once this is no longer an abstraction, that those on the Judiciary Committee recognize that their job is to give this person a hearing, to show the courtesy of meeting with them.  They are then free to vote whatever their conscience dictates as to whether this person is qualified or not.  In the meantime, the American people are going to have the ability to gauge whether the person I’ve nominated is well within the mainstream, is a good jurist, is somebody who’s worthy to sit on the Supreme Court.

And I think it will be very difficult for Mr. McConnell to explain how, if the public concludes that this person is very well qualified, that the Senate should stand in the way simply for political reasons.  We’ll see what happens.  And I think the situation may evolve over time.  I don’t expect Mitch McConnell to say that is the case today.  I don’t expect any member of the Republican caucus to stick their head out at the moment and say that.  But let’s see how the public responds to the nominee that we put forward.

The one thing I think is important to dispel is any notion that somehow this is some well-established tradition, or some constitutional principle that a President in his last year of office cannot fill the Supreme Court vacancy.  It’s not in the text of the Constitution.  Ironically, these are Republicans who say they believe in reading the text of the Constitution and focusing on the intent of the Constitution.  But none of the Founding Fathers thought that when it comes to the President carrying out his duties, he should do it for three years and then on the last year stop doing it.

There’s an argument that, well, the President shouldn’t do this because he is a lame duck.  Well, the truth of the matter is, is that traditionally the term “lame duck” refers to the two or three months after an election has taken place in which a new President is about to be sworn in.  I’ve got a year to go.  I don’t think they would approve of me abdicating on my duties as Commander-in-Chief and to stop doing all the other work that I got to do.  Well, this is part of my job. 

There’s been arguments that for 80 years this has been the tradition.  Well, that’s not the case.  Justice Kennedy was approved after being nominated by Ronald Reagan in Ronald Reagan’s last year of office.  They say, well, that’s different because he had been nominated in 1987, even if he was confirmed — or ’85 — even if he was confirmed in ’86.  Well, the notion that there is some two-month period in which suddenly it all flips and everything shuts down, that’s not a credible argument.

What other arguments are they making?  They suggest that, well, there had been a couple of times where Democrats said it would be wise for a President not to nominate someone.  First of all, we know senators say stuff all the time.  Second of all, these were comments that were made where there was no actual nomination at stake.  So it has no application to the actual situation that we have right now.

I’m trying to think of any other reeds that they’re grasping here as to why they would not carry out their duties.  And I can’t really think of one.

I recognize that this is an important issue for their constituencies, and it’s particularly sensitive because this was Justice Scalia’s seat that is now vacant and that a whole host of decisions on the Supreme Court could turn on this ninth justice and their vote.

But that’s how our democracy is supposed to work.  And what I do — the last point I’ll make — we have already seen a breakdown of the judicial appointment process that gets worse and worse each and every year, each and every Congress.  It becomes harder and harder to get any candidates for the judiciary confirmed.  We saw Senator Reid have to employ the so-called “nuclear option” because there was such a logjam in terms of getting judicial appointments through.

If, in fact, the Republicans in the Senate take a posture that defies the Constitution, defies logic, is not supported by tradition simply because of politics, then invariably what you’re going to see is a further deterioration in the ability of any President to make any judicial appointments.  And appointments to the Supreme Court as well as the federal bench suddenly become a complete extension of our polarized politics.

And at that point, not only are you going to see more and more vacancies and the court systems break down, but the credibility of the Court itself begins to diminish because it’s viewed simply as an extension of our politics — this is a Republican judge or this is a Democratic judge, as opposed to, this is a Supreme Court justice who is supposed to be standing above the day-to-day politics that take place.

So I understand the posture that they’re taking right now.  I get the politics of it.  I’m sure they’re under enormous pressure from their base and their constituencies around this issue.  I’ve talked to many of them, and I’ve told them I’m sympathetic.  And, by the way, there’s not a lot of vigor when they defend the position that they’re taking, that they wouldn’t even meet, for example, with a Supreme Court nominee.  They’re pretty sheepish about it when they make those comments.

So we’ll see how this plays itself out.  But I’m going to do my job.  I’m going to nominate somebody and let the American people decide as to whether that person is qualified.  And if they are qualified, let the American people decide whether there’s enough time for the U.S. Senate to hold hearings and have a vote.  It’s not as if, from what I see, the Senate calendar is so full that we don’t have time to get this done.

In contrast to GOP Opponents, Hillary Clinton Presents ‘360 Degree Strategy to Keep America Safe’

Hillary Clinton, Democratic candidate for president, detailing a "360 degree strategy to keep America safe," said that shallow slogans don’t add up to a strategy, and bluster and bigotry are not credentials for becoming commander-in-chief © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Hillary Clinton, Democratic candidate for president, detailing a “360 degree strategy to keep America safe,” said that shallow slogans don’t add up to a strategy, and bluster and bigotry are not credentials for becoming commander-in-chief © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We’ve heard a whole lot from the Republican presidential hopefuls, one more absurd than another, of what they would do to “keep our nation safe” – devoting an entire 2 hour debate to the subject. Donald Trump would bring back waterboarding and torture, would kill family members of suspected terrorists. Ted Cruz would “carpet bomb” cities held by ISIS, even if there are tens of thousands of civilians being occupied by the terrorists. Chris Christie, staring into a camera to “intimidate” Vladimir Putin, says he would create a no-fly zone and shoot down any Russian plane that penetrates it (“That’s great if you want a candidate to start World War III,” was Rand Paul’s response.) Carly Fiorina would rehire generals who have resigned or retired.

And yet, Republicans in Congress refuse to do some of the most basic things to actually keep us safe. Senate Republicans have blocked the confirmation – and gone home for the holidays – of Adam Szubin as the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes, the post in charge of tracking down and stopping the funds going to terrorist organizations. And Republicans in both houses have blocked legislation which would keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists on the no-fly list (if there is a problem with the list, they should fix it by giving the individual recourse to defend themselves, and that would be sufficient in fact to uncover actual terrorists).  But there is no common sense. It makes you wonder whether Republicans like an atmosphere of terror because they think that fear whips up votes in their favor.

The Republicans also have been stingy in funding the very services they are faulting for being inadequate – visa services, State Department security (Benghazi, Benghazi).

But in a speech on the same day as the Republican debate, December 15, Hillary Clinton,  Democratic candidate, gave a thoughtful speech outlining her previously stated overall anti-terrorism strategy, and a more intensively focused “360-degree strategy to keep America safe.” The speech received virtually no coverage, but she repeated the strategy in an op-ed published December 18.

Hillary for America released a new web video comparing Hillary Clinton’s recent remarks in Minnesota with Republican candidates, who were exposed as unfit and ill-prepared during this week’s Republican debate. In the remarks, Clinton said that shallow slogans don’t add up to a strategy, and bluster and bigotry are not credentials for becoming commander-in-chief. Republican candidates, on the other hand, have offered fear instead of facts. (Here are some other reviews of the Republicans’ performance this week HERE)

Here are highlights from Hillary Clinton’s speech in Minneapolis:

“I want to begin by saying, we cannot give in to fear.  We can’t let it stop us from doing what is right and necessary to make us safe, and doing it in way that is consistent with our values.

We cannot let fear push us into reckless actions that end up making us less safe.  Americans are going to have to act with both courage and clarity…..

 

The threat we face is daunting.  But America has overcome big challenges many times before.  Throughout our history, we’ve stared into the face of evil and refused to blink.  We beat Fascism, won the Cold War, brought Osama bin Laden to justice.

So no one should ever underestimate the determination of the American people.  And I am confident we will once again choose resolve over fear.  And we will defeat these new enemies, just as we’ve defeated those who’ve threatened us in the past.

Because it is not enough to contain ISIS, we must defeat ISIS, break its momentum and then its back.  And not just ISIS, but the broader radical jihadist movement that also includes al Qaeda and offshoots like al Shabaab in Somalia.

Now, waging and winning this fight will require serious leadership.  But unfortunately, our political debate has been anything but serious.

We can’t afford another major ground war in the Middle East.  That’s exactly what ISIS wants from us.  Shallow slogans don’t add up to a strategy.  Promising to carpet bomb until the desert glows doesn’t make you sound strong, it makes you sound like you’re in over your head.  Bluster and bigotry are not credentials for becoming Commander-in-Chief.

And it is hard to take seriously senators who talk tough but then hold up key national security nominations, including the top official at the Treasury Department responsible for disrupting terrorist financing.

Every day that’s wasted on partisan gridlock could put Americans in danger.  So, yes, we need a serious discussion.  And that’s why in a speech last month before the Council on Foreign Relations I laid out a three-part plan to defeat ISIS and the broader extremist movement.

One, defeat ISIS in the Middle East by smashing its stronghold, hitting its fighters, leaders, and infrastructure from the air, and intensifying support for local forces who can pursue them on the ground.

Second, defeat them around the world by dismantling the global network of terror that supplies radical jihadists with money, arms, propaganda, and fighters.

And third, defeat them here at home by foiling plots, disrupting radicalization, and hardening our defenses.

Now, these three lines of effort reinforce one another.  So we need to pursue all of them at once, using every pillar of American power.

It will require skillful diplomacy to continue Secretary Kerry’s efforts to encourage political reconciliation in Iraq and political transition in Syria, enabling more Sunni Arabs and Kurdish fighters to take on ISIS on both sides of the border, and to get our Arab and Turkish partners to actually step up and do their part.

It will require more U.S. and allied airpower, and a broader target set for strikes by planes and drones, with proper safeguards.

It will require Special Operations units to advise and train local forces and conduct key counterterrorism missions.

What it will not require is tens of thousands of American combat troops.  That is not the right action for us to take in this situation.

So there is a lot to do, and today, I want to focus on the third part of my plan, how we defend our country and prevent radicalization here at home.

We need a comprehensive strategy to counter each step in the process that can lead to an attack like the one in San Bernardino.

First, we have to shut down ISIS recruitment in the United States, especially online.

Second, stop would-be jihadists from getting training overseas, and stop foreign terrorists from coming here.

Third, discover and disrupt plots before they can be carried out.

Fourth, support law enforcement officers who risk their lives to prevent and respond to attacks.

And fifth, empower our Muslim-American communities, who are on the front-lines of the fight against radicalization.

This is a 360-degree strategy to keep America safe, and I want to walk through each of the elements, from recruitment to training to planning to execution.

First, shutting down recruitment.  We have to stop jihadists from radicalizing new recruits in-person and through social media, chat rooms, and what’s called the “Dark Web.”

To do that, we need stronger relationships between Washington, Silicon Valley, and all of our great tech companies and entrepreneurs.  American innovation is a powerful force, and we have to put it to work defeating ISIS.

That starts with understanding where and how recruitment happens.  Our security professionals need to more effectively track and analyze ISIS’s social media posts and map jihadist networks, and they need help from the tech community.

Companies should redouble their efforts to maintain and enforce their own service agreements and other necessary policies to police their networks, identifying extremist content and removing it.

Now, many are already doing this, and sharing those best practices more widely is important.

At the State Department, I started an interagency center to combat violent jihadist messages, to have a better way to communicate on behalf of our values, and to give young people drawn to those messages an alternative narrative.

We recruited specialists fluent in Arabic, Urdu, and Somali to wave online battles with extremists to counter their propaganda.

Now, those efforts have not kept pace with the threat, so we need to step up our game, in partnership with the private sector and credible moderate voices outside government.

But that’s just some of what we have to do.  Experts from the FBI, the intelligence community, Homeland Security, DOD, the State Department, and the technology industry should work together to develop a unified national strategy to defeat ISIS in cyberspace, using all of our capabilities to deny jihadists virtual territory, just as we work to deny them actual territory.

And at the same time, we also have to do more to address the challenge of radicalization, whatever form it takes.

It’s imperative that the Saudis, the Qataris, the Kuwaitis and others stop their citizens from supporting radical schools, madrassas and mosques around the world, once and for all, and that should be the top priority in all of our discussions with these countries.

Now, second, we have to prevent ISIS recruits from training abroad, and prevent foreign jihadists from coming here.

Most urgent is stemming the flow of fighters from Europe and America to Iraq and Syria, and then back home again.

The United States and our allies need to know the identities of every fighter who makes that trip, and then share information with each other in real time.

Right now, European nations don’t always alert each other when they turn away a suspected extremist at the border or when a passport is stolen.  They have to dramatically improve intelligence sharing and counterterrorism cooperation.  And we’re ready to help them do that.

We also need to take down the network of enablers who help jihadists finance and facilitate their travel, forge documents, and evade detection.  And the United States and our allies should commit to revoke the passports and visas of jihadists who have gone to join ISIS or other groups, and bring the full force of law against them.

As I’ve said before, the United States has to take a close look at our visa programs.  And I am glad the administration and Congress are stepping up scrutiny in the wake of San Bernardino.  And that should include scrutinizing applicants’ social media postings.  We also should dispatch more Homeland Security agents to high-risk countries to better investigate visa applicants.

For many years, America has waived visa requirements for travelers from countries with reliable security procedures, including key allies in Europe and Asia.  That makes sense.  But we also have to be smart.  Except for limited exceptions like diplomats and aid workers, anyone who has traveled in the past five years to a country facing serious problems with terrorism and foreign fighters should have to go through a full visa investigation, no matter where they’re from.

We also have to be vigilant in screening and vetting refugees from Syria, guided by the best judgment of our security and diplomatic professionals.  Rigorous vetting already takes place while these refugees are still overseas, and it’s a process that historically takes 18 to 24 months.

But Congress needs to provide enough resources to ensure we have sufficient personnel deployed to run the most thorough possible process.

And just as important, we cannot allow terrorists to intimidate us into abandoning our values and our humanitarian obligations.

Turning away orphans, applying a religious test that discriminates against Muslims, slamming the door on every single Syrian refugee; that is not who we are.  We are better than that.

It would be a cruel irony indeed if ISIS can force families from their homes and then also prevent them from finding new ones.  So after rigorous screening, we should welcome families fleeing Syria just as the Twin Cities and this state have welcomed previous generations of refugees, exiles, and immigrants.

Of course, the key is to prevent terrorists also from exploiting our compassion and endangering our security.  But we can do this.  And I think we must.

Third, we have to discover and disrupt jihadist plots before they can be carried out.  This is going to take better intelligence collection, analysis, and sharing.  I’ve proposed an “intelligence surge” against ISIS that includes more operations officers and linguists, enhancing our technical surveillance of overseas targets, intercepting terrorist communications, flying more reconnaissance missions to track terrorists’ movements, and developing even closer partnerships with other intelligence services.

President Obama recently signed the USA Freedom Act, which was passed by a bipartisan majority in Congress.  It protects civil liberties while maintaining capabilities that our intelligence and law enforcement agencies need to keep us safe.  However, the new law is now under attack from presidential candidates on the left and right.  Some would strip away crucial counterterrorism tools, even with appropriate judicial and congressional oversight.  Others seem eager to go back to discredited practices of the past.

I don’t think we can afford to let either view prevail.  Now, encryption of mobile devices and communications does present a particularly tough problem with important implications for security and civil liberties.  Law enforcement and counterterrorism professionals warn that impenetrable encryption may make it harder for them to investigate plots and prevent future attacks.  On the other hand, there are very legitimate worries about privacy, network security, and creating new vulnerabilities that bad actors can exploit.

I know there’s no magic fix to this dilemma that will satisfy all these concerns.  But we can’t just throw up our hands.  The tech community and the government have to stop seeing each other as adversaries and start working together to keep us safe from terrorists.   And even as we make sure law enforcement officials get the tools they need to prevent attacks, it’s essential that we also make sure jihadists don’t get the tools they need to carry out attacks.

It defies common sense that Republicans in Congress refuse to make it harder for potential terrorists to buy guns.  If you’re too dangerous to fly, you’re too dangerous to buy a gun, period.   And we should insist on comprehensive background checks and close loopholes that allow potential terrorists to buy weapons online or at gun shows.  And I think it’s time to restore the ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

I know this will drive some of our Republican friends a little crazy.  You’ll probably hear it tonight.  They will say that guns are a totally separate issue, nothing to do with terrorism.  Well, I have news for them, terrorists use guns to kill Americans.  And I think we should make it a lot harder for them from to do that ever again.

And there’s a question, a question they should be asked:  Why don’t the Republican candidates want to do that?   You see, I have this old fashioned idea that we elect a President in part, in large part, to keep us safe, from terrorists, from gun violence, from whatever threatens our families and communities.  And I’m not going to let the gun lobby or anyone else tell me that’s not the right path for us to go down.

Now, the fourth element in my strategy is supporting law enforcement officers who risk their lives to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks.

In San Bernardino, city, county, state, and federal authorities acted with speed and courage to prevent even more loss of life.  Like Detective Jorge Lozano, a 15-year police veteran, who assured terrified civilians, “I’ll take a bullet before you do.”  There is no limit to the gratitude we owe to law enforcement professionals like that Detective Lozano who run toward danger to try to save lives.  And not just in the immediate wake of an attack.  Our police, firefighters, and emergency responders will keep putting their lives on the line long after the cameras move on.

It’s disgraceful that Congress has thus far failed to keep faith with first responders suffering from the lasting health effects of 9/11.  Many of them were men and women I was so proud to represent as a Senator from New York.  The Zadroga 9/11 Health Act never should have been allowed to lapse.  It looks like Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may have finally dropped his opposition.  And I hope the American people will hold him to that.  And we will continue to honor the service and sacrifice of those who responded to the worst terrorist attack in our history.

We have to make sure that local law enforcement has the resources and training they need to keep us safe.  And they should be more closely synced up with national counterterrorism experts, including with better use of “fusion centers” that serve as clearinghouses for intelligence and coordination.

And we need to strengthen our defenses and our resilience wherever we’re vulnerable, whether it’s “soft targets” like shopping malls or higher-profile targets like airports, railways, or power plants.  We have to build on the progress of the Obama Administration in locking down loose nuclear materials, and other WMD, so they never fall into the hands of terrorists who seek them actively around the world.

So we should be providing the Department of Homeland Security with the resources it needs to stay one step ahead, not trying to privatize key functions, like TSA, as some Republicans have proposed.

And it’s important for us to recognize that when we talk about law enforcement, we have made progress in being sure that our federal authorities share information with our state and local authorities, but that was an issue I tackled after 9/11, and we have to stay really vigilant so that information is in the hands where it needs to be.

Finally, the fifth element in the strategy is empowering Muslim-American communities who are on the front-lines of the fight against radicalization.  There are millions of peace-loving Muslims living, working, raising families, and paying taxes in our country.  These Americans may be our first, last, and best defense against home grown radicalization and terrorism.  They are the most likely to recognize the insidious effects of radicalization before it’s too late, intervene to help set a young person straight.  They are the best positioned to block anything going forward.

That’s why law enforcement has worked so hard since 9/11 to build up trust and strong relationships within Muslim-American communities.  Here in the Twin Cities, you have an innovative partnership that brings together parents, teachers, imams, and others in the Somali-American community with law enforcement, non-profits, local businesses, mental health professionals and others to intervene with young people who are at risk.

It’s called the Building Community Resilience Pilot Program, and it deserves increased support.  It has not gotten the financial resources that it needs to do everything the people involved in it know they can do.  And we’ve got to do a better job of supporting it.

Now I know that like many places across the country, there’s more work to do to increase trust between communities and law enforcement.  Just last month, I know here a young African American man was fatally shot by a police officer.  And I understand an investigation is underway.  Whatever the outcome, tragedies like this raise hard questions about racial justice in America and put at risk efforts to build the community relationships that help keep us safe from crime and from terrorism.

When people see that respect and trust are two-way streets, they’re more likely to work hand-in-hand with law enforcement.  One of the mothers of the 10 men recently charged with conspiring with terrorists said, “We have to stop the denial,” she told other parents that.  “We have to talk to our kids and work with the FBI.”  That’s a message we need to hear from leaders within Muslim-American communities across our country.

But we also want to highlight the successes in Muslim American communities, and there are so many of them.  I just met with the first Somali-American council member of the City Council here.  And he was proudly telling me how much change Somali immigrants, now Muslim-Americans have made in parts of the city and neighborhoods that had been pretty much hollowed out.  Let’s look at the successes.

If we’re going to full integrate everyone into America, then we need to be seeing all their contributions, too.  And that is one of the many reasons why we must all stand up against offensive, inflammatory, hateful, anti-Muslim rhetoric.  You know, not only do these comments cut against everything we stand for as Americans, they are also dangerous.

As the Director of the FBI told Congress recently, anything that erodes trust with Muslim-Americans makes the job of law enforcement more difficult.  We need every community invested in this fight, not alienated and sitting on the sidelines.

One of the community leaders I met with told me that a lot of the children in the community are now afraid to go to school.  They’re not only afraid of being perceived as a threat, they are afraid of being threatened because of who they are.  This is such a open-hearted and generous community, I hope there will be even more efforts perhaps under the aegis of the university and certainly Governor Dayton and others, to bring people together to reassure members of the community, particularly children and teenagers that they are welcome, invited and valued here in this city and state.

Now Donald Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States has rightly sparked outrage across our country and around the world.  Even some of the other Republican candidates are saying he’s gone too far.  But the truth is, many of those same candidates have also said disgraceful things about Muslims.  And this kind of divisive rhetoric actually plays into the hands of terrorists.  It alienates partners and undermines moderates we need around the world in the fight against ISIS.

You know, you hear a lot of talk from some of the other candidates about coalitions.  Everyone seems to want one.  But there’s not nearly as much talk about what it actually takes to build a coalition and make it work.  I know how hard this is because I’ve done it.  And I can tell you, insulting potential allies doesn’t make it any easier.

And demonizing Muslims also feeds a narrative that jihadists use to recruit new followers around the world, that the United States is at war with Islam.  As both the Pentagon and the FBI have said in the past week, we cannot in any way lend credence to that twisted idea.  This is not a clash of civilizations.  It’s a clash between civilization and barbarism and that’s how it must be seen and fought.

Some will tell you that our open society is a vulnerability in the struggle against terrorism.  I disagree.  I believe our tolerance and diversity are at the core of our strength.  At a Naturalization ceremony for new citizens today in Washington, President Obama noted the tension throughout our history between welcoming or rejecting the stranger.  It is, he said, about the meaning of America, what kind of country do we want to be?  And it’s about the capacity of each generation to honor the creed as old as our founding, E Pluribus Unum.  Out of many we are one.

President Obama is right, and it matters.  It’s no coincidence that American Muslims have long been better integrated and less susceptible to radicalization than Muslims in less welcoming countries.  We can’t give in to demagogues who play on our basest instincts.  We must instead rely on the principles written into our American DNA.  Freedom.  Equality.  Opportunity.

America is strongest when all our people believe they have a stake in our country and our future, no matter where they’re from, what they look like, how they worship, or who they love.  Our country was founded by people fleeing religious persecution.  As George Washington put it, the United States gives “to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”  So to all our Muslim-American brothers and sisters, this is your country too.  And I am proud to be your fellow American.

And I want to remind us, particularly our Republican friends, that George W. Bush was right.  Six days after 9/11 he went to a Muslim community center and here’s what he said, those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take their anger don’t represent the best of America, they represent the worst of human kind, and they should be ashamed of that kind of behavior….

“We are Americans.”  We are the greatest nation on earth not in spite of the challenges we’ve faced, but because of them.  Americans will not buckle or break.  We will not turn on each other or turn on our principles.  We will pursue our enemies with unyielding power and purpose.  We will crush their would-be caliphate and counter radical jihadism wherever it takes root.  We’re in it for the long haul.  And we’ll stand taller and stronger than they can possibly imagine.

That’s what we do here.  It’s who we are.  That’s how we’ll win, by looking at one another with respect, with concern, with commitment.  That’s the America that I know makes us all so proud to be a part of.”

Spate of Gun Deaths Embolden Dems to Call for Universal Background Checks But More is Needed

Gun violence prevention advocates won one victory in May – Oregon passed universal background checks – but suffered a bigger loss, as Texas voted to allow concealed carry of guns on campuses of public colleges across the state. This is despite the fact that the most famous thing to happen at the University of Texas-Austin was the first mass shooting in America, on August 1, 1966, when Charles Whitman climbed the University of Texas Tower and used a sniper to kill 16 and wound 31.

Ironically, Oregon, which allows concealed carry on college campuses, just this month was the setting for the latest campus massacre.

Also this month, a six year old murdered his three-year old sibling with his father’s gun, kept loaded, atop their refrigerator.

Indeed, roughly every week, a toddler is killed or kills with a gun. How many more are added to the list, provided in mid-April by Colette Martin, of Moms Demand Action, which had already produced 11 children under the age of 15 who had been shot accidentally so far that month.

“It’s shocking to me – as I investigate laws at states – because the federal is useless – depending on zipcode, leaving a loaded gun on a coffee table is either a crime or nothing,” Martin told a Gun Violence Prevention forum at Temple Beth-el of Great Neck, “That’s why we read stories every day that a child is shot accidentally. We are not talking suicide or domestic violence.”

Her list included 5 year olds shooting 2 year olds; a 15 year old in Brooklyn who shot himself in the chest; in Houston, a 5 year old was shot by 4 year old (the fourth in 3 weeks); a mom’s boyfriend, cleaning his gun, accidentally shot a 9 year old.

“The NRA won’t tell you but two children a week will die this way, through accidental gunshot wounds – many more hurt, life changing injuries – a pattern so predictable. Over 100 kids a year will be dead because someone didn’t store gun properly.

“Is there any product that kills that many kids that we’re not regulating?

“It should be a crime to leave a loaded gun accessible to children –a punishable crime. That is a glaring omission from New York’s Safe Act,” she says.

That’s also the basis for a proposed law in New York, Nicholas’ Law – named for a 12 year old killed by playing at friend’s house where unsecured loaded gun and friend shot him, accidentally.

Other legislative actions that need to happen nationally:

Repealing laws that ban pediatricians from raising questions about guns in the home and recommending they be locked up (such as in Florida).

Repealing Stand Your Ground (aka “License to Kill”), another law written by the NRA and ALEC (a front for the Koch Brothers) and spread like cancer among the states, starting in Florida under then-Governor Jeb Bush.

Changing the requirements to purchase and possess guns. Norman Siegel, a New York civil rights lawyer and former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, in a letter to the New York Times in December proposed a nationwide state registration program, similar to motor vehicle registration. “Every two years the owner of a gun would be required to bring his or her weapon in for inspection and re-registration. If the owner no longer possesses the weapon, he or she should be required to explain what happened to the gun. Perhaps under such a program we, as a nation, can realistically ameliorate the problem of guns winding up in the hands of lawbreakers and/or the mentally ill.”

And for those who charge that gun registration is somehow violating 2nd Amendment rights, look to the oppressive Voter ID and registration requirements being passed around the country which effectively put barriers in front of citizens’ right to vote.

Moreover, gun rights fanatics have no problem cancelling out the First Amendment’s freedom of speech in banning pediatricians from discussing gun safety with their patients’ families.

Gun violence is not a 2nd amendment issue. It is a public health issue, and should be treated in the same way. And if anything violates the founding premise of this country, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” it is the outsized weight given to so-called gun rights which never actually existed.

“This family’s only child is gone. It’s not just a legislative change, it’s part of the cultural change – the social norming that has to happen as with drunk driving,” she says, referring to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and the way they insinuated a kind of moral code into everyday life.

Governor Cuomo seized upon the massacre Sandy Hook Elementary School as a rare moment when he could pass Safe Act.

But other states – the gun happy ones, the free-range ones, the Live Free or Die ones (and so they die) – have gone the other way – in Florida, doctors are banned (no matter the inconvenient First Amendment guaranteeing free speech, or even the Hippocratic oath) from even asking parents if there is a gun in the home, in order to urge safe storage to prevent such tragedies as Nicholas’ and the others, a move that is being copied by other states, prompting New York Times columnist Charles Blow to raise the question, “Has the NRA Won?”

And the real challenge is the latest move by the NRA in the bought-and-paid-for Congress: to force states with gun regulations to have “reciprocity” – essentially to make a gun permit like a drivers license – with states that have virtually no restrictions (and in the case of one Georgia town, which mandate every family have a gun) – in a blatant disregard of states rights, in yet another instance when hypocrisy rules the day if it is convenient.

“We have to fight reciprocity,” State Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel said during the forum. “Every state has their rights – who can own a gun. New York has strong laws, but in Vermont, you only need to be 16 years of age and have a drivers license and you can have a gun.” What reciprocity means is that if you have a gun permit in one state, you can have a gun – transfer guns, drive interstate (now illegal) – scary for someone like NY.” So if a state like Texas allows concealed guns everywhere (except the State House) with no questions asked, even a person with a mental condition, a veteran with PTSD or a domestic abuser, can bring their gun to New York.

As the level of gun violence has only escalated, the NRA has come back with more and more absurd statements (such as the time after a tragedy is no time to consider what to do about it), or a move to ease access to guns.

If anything gives lie to the absurdity, “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” and the even more absurd statement that the way to reduce gun violence is to make guns even more prevalent, it is the fact that gun violence kills 2500 children each year. You can also look to the murder of police officers, who are clearly “good guys” whose guns could not stop the bad guy who shot first.

In Chicago, just over Memorial Day weekend, 40 people were shot including a 4 year old girl, with nine dead, including,a 15-year old boy, Nation of Change reported.

“So far, there have been 18,760 gun incidents this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, resulting in 4,830 deaths and the death or injury of 249 children.”

There are practical things that can be done to significantly reduce the more than 30,000 gun deaths a year – that’s equivalent to a 9/11 a month – having nothing to do with violating the 2 nd Amendment or taking guns away from the ostensibly “law abiding” people (isn’t it odd that people are “law abiding” until they aren’t?)

But before we get into the long list of commonsense steps that should be taking immediately, without having any impact whatsoever on the so-called “law abiding” gunowners, there is this:

Gun Manufacturers Profit Incentive: Smart Guns

Much is made of the fact that the NRA, which is such an outsized powerhouse scaring the beejeebees out of politicians, serves the interests of gun manufacturers, not the ordinary members (a majority of whom support universal background checks and other commonsense measures).

In fact, the NRA was in favor of universal background checks until they were against them, and now, whenever there is a massacre, they call for more guns – armed guards at schools and churches, concealed carry at college campuses, in fact, everywhere but in Congress and Houses of Legislature.

So just like the corruption in FIFA won’t be rooted out politically, but when Nike and other sponsors exert their power, gun manufacturers have to see profit in being more socially conscious.

Jeb Bush speaking to 30,000 at the NRA convention, said Obama should be disarming ISIS rather than law-abiding Americans – the problem is that terrorists in the US have a clear shot at obtaining military-grade weapons and high-capacity ammo clips- while, in fact, DoD has radiofrequency controls in its military weapons so they can locate guns gone missing into the wrong hands. (Jeb! casually dismissed the Oregon shooting as “stuff happens”.)

Question is: why aren’t there ‘smart guns’ like ‘smart phones’ that can only be used by the person whose hand print is identified with the gun? Or, for that matter, a locater as a smart phone has when it is stolen, and can be located and disarmed remotely?

If the gun manufacturers would see themselves as, say, Apple Computers, coming out with the newest, latest gun that replaces the older gun, they could see big profits in sensible gun measure: namely, the same ID access that smart-phones now have: make the gun so that it can only be used by the owner. If the gun-owner is in fact law-abiding, they would have no problem with that, and would relish the idea of a gun not being snapped up by the “bad guy” (or a child) and used to kill their loved ones.

Think of the increased profits, if 100 million guns had to be replaced! Gun dealers could offer those nifty trade-in deals!

Change Tactics

The gun nuts have also long ceased being credible in arguing for “self-defense” and the “homespun, family values sport of hunting” when they refuse to allow a ban on military-grade assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that kill dozens in a blink of an eye. This is about the fantasy of being able to take down the government – something that the 2nd Amendment never envisioned, since it was intended to provide a defense for the fledgling democratic government in the absence of a standing army -like a National Guard.

It’s been 15 years since the Million Mom March in Washington DC (remember how they said if George W Bush were elected, there would be an office in the West Wing for the NRA? They were right.) Things clearly went downhill from there – for example, allowing the 1994 Assault Weapons ban to lapse.

Despite the rise of organizations like Moms Demand Action, Moms Rising, Americans for Responsible Solutions, Everytown and scores of others (typically, tragically, by family members like Richard Martinez whose lives have been forever destroyed by gun violence), Congress, in the pocket of the gun lobby, has refused to budge, and in the states, the reaction to what was considered the most heinous tragedy of all, the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, was to free up, not tighten, gun restrictions (New York’s Safe Act was the exception).

It’s time to change tactics and the dynamics.

Abortions are constitutionally protected but the anti-choice movement has been able to put all sorts of legal and financial impediments that make it impossible for women to exercise their Constitutionally protected rights.

The gun violence prevention advocates should adopt some of these methods. For example:

State requirements: Just as California laws regarding automobiles and the chemicals industry have forced those industries to change their manufacture to be more environmentally friendly, states could impose requirements on gun manufacturers that every gun be a smart-gun; increase taxes on ammunition (like they do on cigarettes) and fees on gun permits (like voting IDs)

Make gun manufacturers and dealers liable when their product is inappropriately used (as so many other manufacturers are – gun manufacturers are somehow exempted.)

Require gun owners to take out liability insurance so that victims’ families can be adequately compensated.

Institute laws making parents/guardians responsible for safe storage, and criminally liable if a child commits a crime with their gun. For example, no one questioned where the 15 year old Jared Michael Padgett, of Portland, Oregon, obtained the gun he used to kill freshman Emilio Hoffman and wound teacher Todd Rispler before killing himself. Or where 14 year old Jaylen Fryberg, a popular student at Marysville, Wash. high school,, got the .40-caliber handgun he used to kill a girl and strike four others in the head before turning his gun on himself and committing suicide. There were no consequences for whoever obtained the guns that these minors used to murder innocents.

Put a fee on ammunition and gun purchases to support a victims fund.

Boycott college campuses that allow guns: Parents should contact colleges and ask if guns are allowed, and if so, tell them you won’t allow your child to apply there.

“I am, a huge believer that the American people can fix this,” Martin says. “I’ve lost faith in Congress, lost faith in the federal government, lost faith in the NRA – I was never much of a fan, my father tore up his NRA card in1980s, it was apparent to him what they were about: politicizing, a money racket, they are not standing for his ideals.

“Most gun owners are not in NRA… 90% of legitimate legal gun owners don’t support NRA. Who is supporting the NRA? The gun manufacturers – Smith-Wesson, Baretta. It’s no mystery that’s who they serve – the NRA is a front for gun manufacturers.

“Their job is to fend off, violently, any regulation that will impact the sale of their product – every gun that ends up on the street, used in a crime, begins as a legal gun –it was first sold as a legal gun – no illegal gun manufacturing plant anywhere.”

(And every criminal or maniac who uses a gun starts off as a noncriminal, non-maniac. Actually, you could add that whenever there is a massacre – the more heinous that it is – gun sales go up because LaPierre warns that the government will finally confiscate guns.)

Colette adds, “I’m a gun owner and here’s the impact [the NY Safe Act] had on me (she gestures, zero). I don’t have AR 15s in my basement – New York by any measure has done a great job keeping its citizens safe -the illegal street variety and more difficult gun violence.

“I am here today to deal with children’s and guns –standard, practical storage protocols. If you have children and guns in house, lock one of them up,” she said, drawing a laugh.

“1/3 of families own at least one gun – it behooves us to ask how it is stored at home.”

But in the absence of law, there are more practical actions parents should take: “Before you allow your child to go for a playdate, ask are there guns in house That’s not political, but safety. That’s a house I don’t want my kid playing unattended

It’s no more offensive than asking if there is a pool, or a dog. It’s not easy to plan a funeral for a 12 year old – that’s inconvenient.

“How many of these parents whose kids were shot this month would do anything to go back in time and ask that question. It’s not political, not offensive- not out of order to ask about the safety.”

Martin also refutes the claim that safe storage of guns at home will somehow interfere with the ability (rare) to defend from an intruder. She says that evidence shows that it takes a gun owner “fractions of seconds” to get a gun out of a safebox and load it.

In August, Fox & friends did 5 part gun safety series and part 3 featured expert marksmen, firearms dealer and trainer Rob Pincus, who did a live demo showing how long it took in an incidence of home invasion. Someone banged the door down downstairs, he went to the gun safe’s numeric keypad taking a half second to open it, she said.

On the other hand, the incidence of home invasion is so minimal, as are the instances of a gunowner actually foiling an intruder.

“The FBI did a study of home invasions and found that 68% of home invasions happen between parties that knew each other.”

What is more likely is that believing you are defending yourself against an armed intruder, results in accidentally killing your 19 year old who comes home unexpectedly from college at 3 am.

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